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Interpreting the Will of the People: A Positive Analysis of Ordinal Preference Aggregation

Date: Friday, May 13, 2022, 16:00 ~ 17:30
Speaker: Sandro Ambuehl (University of Zurich)
Location: Zoom을 통한 온라인세미나
Abstract :
Interpreting the Will of the People: A Positive Analysis of Ordinal Preference Aggregation
Collective decision making requires preference aggregation even if no ideal aggregation method exists (Arrow, 1950). We investigate how individuals think groups should aggregate members' ordinal preferences—that is, how they interpret "the will of the people." Our experiment elicits revealed attitudes toward ordinal preference aggregation and classifies subjects according to the rules they implicitly deploy. Majoritarianism is rare while rules that promote compromise are common. People evaluate relative sacrifice by inferring cardinal utility from ordinal ranks. Cluster analysis reveals that our classification encompasses all important aggregation rules. Aggregation methods exhibit stability across domains and across countries with divergent traditions.

Politicians’ Social Welfare Criteria: An Experiment With German Legislators
What are elected politicians’ fundamental social welfare criteria? How do they compare to the criteria citizens support and to those commonly used in economic analysis? In our incentivized experiment, German federal and state legislators make decisions that reveal their attitudes towards preference aggregation and their proclivity for paternalistic interventions, as do German voting-age citizens. Both types of respondents intervene to enforce patient choices irrespective of the presence or absence of immediate payouts, contrary to a stance common in behavioral welfare economics. When aggregating ordinal preferences, both interpret them cardinally, contrary to a fundamental tenet of microeconomics. While citizens overestimate politicians’ proclivity for paternalistic intervention and underestimate their preference for compromise, politicians’ revealed social welfare criteria closely resemble those of the citizens they represent.
*본 세미나는 VEAEBES(Virtual East Asia Experimental and Behavioral Economics Seminar series) 주최로 열리는 세미나입니다.

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