Testing Theories of Lawmaking [chapter]

Keith Krehbiel, Adam Meirowitz, Jonathan Woon
Social Choice and Strategic Decisions  
Explaining the policies that result from collective choice in legislatures has been a prominent objective of positive political theory. Two paths of complementary research have been traversed. Social choice theory attempts to identify stable policies by focusing on characteristics of legislative preferences and the choice space. Noncooperative game theory more explicitly relies upon characterizations of institutions to identify regularities in behavior. Jeffrey Banks made fundamental
more » ... ns to both important strands of theory. From the social choice perspective, a few seminal papers have clarified the mathematical structure of policies that are supported by stable coalitions. Plott [28] demonstrated that the existence of stable policies is critically dependent on symmetry conditions. McKelvey and Schofield [27] established that these conditions generically do not hold as long as the policy space is of sufficiently high dimensionality. Banks [6] provided a more precise treatment of the problem, correcting the results from earlier papers, and Saari [32] closed the question by providing tight dimensional bounds. Institutionalism and noncooperative game theoretic approaches began to flourish in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and Banks, even in the infancy of his career, was an immediate, accelerating force. By recognizing and exploiting the fact that there is a modicum of structure even in environments where social choice theory implies the absence of stable policies, Banks [5] characterized the set of policies that can emerge as undominated equilibrium outcomes from amendment agendas. In characterizing what has become known as the Banks Set, the article "Sophisticated voting outcomes and agenda control" illuminated the interplay between sophisticated behavior and a fixed agenda structure, thereby paving the way for the subsequent focus on characterizing the types of agendas developed endogenously. Thereafter, Austen-Smith [4] considered sophisticated voting and optimal agenda construction and showed that for an empirically plausible type of agenda formation, sincere voting 0 Forthcoming in David Austen-Smith and John Duggan (eds.) Social Choice and Strategic Decisions: Essays in Honor of Jeffrey S. Banks
doi:10.1007/3-540-27295-x_10 fatcat:oq3lbsbrkvcjrln6nii3ln3xz4