Journal Article

Voting on Majority Rules

Matthias Messner and Mattias K. Polborn

in The Review of Economic Studies

Published on behalf of Review of Economic Studies Ltd

Volume 71, issue 1, pages 115-132
Published in print January 2004 | ISSN: 0034-6527
Published online January 2004 | e-ISSN: 1467-937X | DOI:
Voting on Majority Rules

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  • Analysis of Collective Decision-making


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We analyse an overlapping generations model of voting on “reform projects”. These resemble investments in that they first require some investment expenditure and later payoff. Since the time during which old people get the benefit is shorter, or because older people are more wealthy and hence pay more taxes, they are more conservative (against reforms) than young people.

We show that if people vote on which majority should be required in future elections for a bill to become a law, the winning proposal specifies a supermajority. This result is very robust even if age related conflict is only one determinant among others for voting behaviour in the society.

Keywords: D71; D72

Journal Article.  10819 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Analysis of Collective Decision-making

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