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The option to wait in collective decisions
Journal of Public Economics (2012)
  • Matthias Messner, Bocconi University
  • Mattias K Polborn
We analyze a model in which voters learn over time their preferences regarding an irreversible social decision. Voters can either implement the project in the first period, or they can postpone the decision to the second period. We analyze the effects of different majority rules. We show that individual first period voting behavior may become ``less conservative'' under supermajority rules, and that it is even possible that a project is implemented in the first period under a supermajority rule that would not be implemented under simple majority rule. We characterize the optimal majority rule, which is a supermajority rule. We also show that, in contrast to individual investment problems, society may be better off if the option to postpone the decision did not exist.
  • Supermajority rules,
  • learning,
  • investment,
  • option value
Publication Date
June, 2012
Citation Information
Matthias Messner and Mattias K. Polborn, ``The option to wait in collective decisions'', Journal of Public Economics, 96 (5-6), 2012, 524 - 540