Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 9 No. 1 (Winter 1995)


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How to Judge Voting Schemes

Article Citation

Sen, Amartya. 1995. "How to Judge Voting Schemes." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 9(1): 91-98.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.9.1.91


This symposium on voting procedures presents many interesting findings and insights. This note scrutinizes them and discusses two general issues. First, the assumption that voters' preferences are menu-independent (and based on one canonical ordering of the alternatives) underestimates the importance of the process of voting (voting for x, against y). Second, evaluation can be a two-way process, including the axiomatic method (of social choice theory), going from isolated properties to voting schemes, and the converse method of first identifying attractions and perversities of particular voting schemes (as in this symposium) and then using properties for later axiomatic use.

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Sen, Amartya (Harvard U)

JEL Classifications

D72: Models of Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior


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