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Constitutional design for a rent-seeking society: Voting rule choice

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Abstract

If rent-seeking costs are considered in addition to, and separate from, external costs and decision costs in Buchanan and Tullock's economic theory of constitutions, total interdependence costs may have multiple local minima close to the decision-making extremes. As a result, the global minimum, which gives the optimal decision rule, may be much closer to “unanimity rule” or “individual rule” than to “simple majority rule”. Further, the comparison of the minimum total interdependence costs for the public sector with those for the private sector would only justify a smaller scope and size for the public sector than would be the case if rent-seeking costs were ignored. Finally, systematic variation in rent-seeking cost could account for dramatic regime shifts between dictatorship and democracy.

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Paper originally presented at the Constitutional Economics I Session of The European Public Choice Society Meetings. Meersburg, 18–21 April 1990. Comments by X. de Vanssay, A. Hamlin, R. Krelove, S. Lemche, W. W. Woolsey and session participants are gratefully acknowledged.

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Spindler, Z.A. Constitutional design for a rent-seeking society: Voting rule choice. Constit Polit Econ 1, 73–82 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02393241

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