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On the Weights of Nations: Assigning Voting Weights in a Heterogeneous Union

Barberà, Salvador and Jackson, Matthew O. (2006) On the Weights of Nations: Assigning Voting Weights in a Heterogeneous Union. Journal of Political Economy, 114 (2). pp. 317-339. ISSN 0022-3808.

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We study indirect democracy in which countries, states, or districts each elect a representative who later votes at a union level on their behalf. We show that the voting rule that maximizes the total expected utility of all agents in the union involves assigning a weight to each district's vote and then sticking with the status quo unless at least a threshold of weighted votes is cast for change. We analyze how the weights relate to the population size of a country and the correlation structure of agents' preferences, and then we compare the voting weights in the Council of the European Union under the Nice Treaty and the recently proposed Constitution.

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Jackson, Matthew O.0000-0001-9846-4249
Additional Information:© 2006 by The University of Chicago. We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, and the National Science Foundation under grants SES-9986190 and SES-0316493, as well as financial support from the Centre de Referència d'Economia Analítica (Barcelona), the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology through grant BEC2002-002130, and the Generalitat of Catalonia through grant SGR2001-00162. We thank Claus Beisbart, Ken Binmore, Jon Eguia, Annick Laruelle, Giovanni Maggi, Vincent Merlin, and Federico Valenciano for helpful discussions and comments, and Robert Shimer and two referees for suggestions on earlier drafts. We are also very grateful to Danilo Coelho for research assistance.
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:3970
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Deposited On:20 Jul 2006
Last Modified:02 Oct 2019 23:08

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