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Instability of Collective Decisions? Testing for Cyclical Majorities

Thomas Stratmann
Public Choice
Vol. 88, No. 1/2 (Jul., 1996), pp. 15-28
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30027249
Page Count: 14
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Instability of Collective Decisions? Testing for Cyclical Majorities
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Abstract

Abstract. The issues of cyclical majorities and instability of collective choices have been in the forefront in the discussion of social choice mechanisms. Cycling, lack of equilibria, and so called chaos theorems have been prevalent in the public choice literature. Whether cycling actually occurs in processes that are decided by majority rule has been a long-standing question. However, cycling has not been made quantifiable nor has it been clear how one would determine empirically whether majorities are cyclical. In this paper, cycling has been given an empirical meaning. This paper provides a method to test for cyclical majorities and applies it to decisions made in the US Congress. The test results indicate stability and the presence of persistent winners and losers in Congress.

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