When is voting optimal?

Ruth Ben-Yashar, Leif Danziger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We consider a superior decision rule for making collective choices. In our framework, the optimal decision rule depends simply on the decision makers’ posterior probabilities of a particular state of nature. In contrast to voting schemes, there is no need to force the decision makers to provide dichotomous information nor to estimate the different abilities of the various decision makers. An important insight is that voting is generally not an efficient way to make collective choices. The purpose of the paper is to shed light on the relationship between the optimal decision rule and voting mechanisms. We derive the conditions under which the optimal decision rule is equivalent to a well-known voting procedure (weighted supermajority, weighted majority, and simple majority) and show that these conditions are very stringent. More general voting procedures that, for example, allow for abstentions, are also considered, and we show that the conditions for reaching the optimal collective choice are still very stringent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-356
Number of pages16
JournalEconomic theory bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014


  • Decision making ; Economic models ; Economic theory ; Economic Theory/Quantitative Economics/Mathematical Methods ; Economics ; Economics and Finance ; Elections ; Game Theory ; Macroeconomics/Monetary Economics//Financial Economics ; Political science ; Probability ; Public Finance ; Research Article ; Social and Behav. Sciences ; Studies ; Voter behavior


Dive into the research topics of 'When is voting optimal?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this