Public Choice

, Volume 175, Issue 1–2, pp 19–36 | Cite as

Supermajority rule, the law of 1/n, and government spending: a synthesis

  • Paul Pecorino


I develop models in which a minimum winning coalition decides on the level of government spending, where the Coase theorem holds amongst members of the winning coalition. An increase in the supermajority requirement has potentially conflicting effects on spending. A higher requirement increases the tax price internalized by the minimum winning coalition, but also increases the number of districts included in this coalition. I develop separate models in which the spending in question consists of (i) a nonexcludable good, (ii) a distributive consumption good, (iii) infrastructure spending and (iv) a transfer payment. A supermajority rule has no effect on spending for nonexcludable goods and ambiguous effects on spending for distributive projects and infrastructure spending. An increased supermajority requirement does unambiguously reduce transfer spending. I also relate the supermajority rule to the law of 1/n. If the Coase Theorem holds and a minimum winning coalition forms, an increase in the number of districts n has precisely the same effect on overall expenditure as a decrease in the supermajority requirement. Thus, the ambiguous spending effects stemming from supermajority rule carry over into this version of the law of 1/n.


Supermajority voting requirement Law of 1/n Government spending 

JEL Classification

D72 H40 D78 



I would like to thank an anonymous referee, William B. Hankins, Arye Hillman, Natalia Kolesnikova, Matt Van Essen, and participants at the Public Choice Society Meeting and the University of Alabama Brown Bag workshop for providing helpful comments on this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics, Finance and Legal StudiesUniversity of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

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