“How Transparency Kills Information Aggregation: Theory & Experiment”, with Sebastian Fehrler (American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 2018) (Online Appendix)
Abstract We investigate the potential of transparency to influence committee decision-making. We present a model in which career concerned committee members receive private information of different type-dependent accuracy, deliberate and vote. We study three levels of transparency under which career concerns are predicted to affect behavior differently and test the model’s key predictions in a laboratory experiment. The model’s predictions are largely borne out – transparency negatively affects information aggregation at the deliberation and voting stages, leading to sharply different committee error rates than under secrecy. This occurs despite subjects revealing more information under transparency than theory predicts.
“Voting in Legislative Elections under Plurality Rule”, (Journal of Economic Theory, 2016)
Abstract Models of single district plurality elections show that with three parties anything can happen – extreme policies can win regardless of voter preferences. I show that when single district elections are used to fill a legislature, we get back to a world where the median voter matters. An extreme policy will generally only come about if it is preferred to a more moderate policy by the median voter in a majority of districts. The mere existence of a centrist party can lead to moderate outcomes even if the party itself wins few seats. I also show that, while some voters in a district will not vote for their nationally preferred party, in many equilibria they will want the candidate for whom they vote to win that district. This is never the case in single district elections. There, some voters always want the candidate they voted for to lose.
Abstract In existing legislative bargaining models the precise division of seats between parties has no bearing on some of: which coalition forms, which policy is adopted, how perks are divided – or even all three. These models also predict that the proposer should reap significantly larger rewards than the other players. Such predictions are at odds with longstanding empirics: government portfolios are generally allocated in proportion to seat share, and there is no proposer advantage. In this paper, I show that when each member of a party faces the electoral consequences of being in government, then seat shares matter a great deal: (1) For a given ranking of parties, changing their respective seat shares can bring about almost any coalition; (2) the implemented policy is a function of the coalition parties seat shares; (3) an increase in one coalition party’s seats will move the policy towards their preferred point, but may increase or decrease their share of government perks. Furthermore, I show that (4) there can be equilibria in which the largest party is not in government, and (5) in many cases the larger coalition member will have all of its rent extracted by the junior member.