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Interpreting the will of the people: a positive analysis of ordinal preference aggregation


Ambuehl, Sandro; Bernheim, B. Douglas (2021). Interpreting the will of the people: a positive analysis of ordinal preference aggregation. Working paper series / Department of Economics 395, University of Zurich.

Abstract

We investigate how individuals think groups should aggregate members’ ordinal preferences – that is, how they interpret “the will of the people.” In an experiment, we elicit revealed attitudes toward ordinal preference aggregation and classify subjects according to the rules they apparently deploy. Majoritarianism is rare. Instead, people employ rules that place greater weight on compromise options. The classification’s fit is excellent, and clustering analysis reveals that it does not omit important rules. We ask whether rules are stable across domains, whether people impute cardinal utility from ordinal ranks, and whether attitudes toward aggregation differ across countries with divergent traditions.

Abstract

We investigate how individuals think groups should aggregate members’ ordinal preferences – that is, how they interpret “the will of the people.” In an experiment, we elicit revealed attitudes toward ordinal preference aggregation and classify subjects according to the rules they apparently deploy. Majoritarianism is rare. Instead, people employ rules that place greater weight on compromise options. The classification’s fit is excellent, and clustering analysis reveals that it does not omit important rules. We ask whether rules are stable across domains, whether people impute cardinal utility from ordinal ranks, and whether attitudes toward aggregation differ across countries with divergent traditions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
JEL Classification:C91, D71
Uncontrolled Keywords:Experiment, welfare economics, social choice, Borda, Condorcet
Language:English
Date:September 2021
Deposited On:21 Sep 2021 09:22
Last Modified:22 Sep 2021 03:37
Series Name:Working paper series / Department of Economics
Number of Pages:50
ISSN:1664-705X
OA Status:Green
Official URL:https://www.econ.uzh.ch/de/research/publications/workingpapers.html?paper-id=1077

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