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Journal Article

Fair group decisions via non-deterministic proportional consensus


Heitzig,  Jobst
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Simmons,  Forest W.
External Organizations;

Constantino,  Sara M.
External Organizations;

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Heitzig, J., Simmons, F. W., Constantino, S. M. (2024 online): Fair group decisions via non-deterministic proportional consensus. - Social Choice and Welfare.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_29913
Are there group decision methods which (i) give everyone, including minorities, an equal share of effective decision power even when voters act strategically, (ii) promote consensus and equality, rather than polarization and inequality, and (iii) do not favour the status quo or rely too much on chance? We describe two non-deterministic group decision methods that meet these criteria, one based on automatic bargaining over lotteries, the other on conditional commitments to approve compromise options. Using theoretical analysis, agent-based simulations and a behavioral experiment, we show that these methods prevent majorities from consistently suppressing minorities, which can happen in deterministic methods, and keeps proponents of the status quo from blocking decisions, as in other consensus-based approaches. Our simulations show that these methods achieve aggregate welfare comparable to common voting methods, while employing chance judiciously, and that the welfare costs of fairness and consensus are small compared to the inequality costs of majoritarianism. In an incentivized experiment with naive participants, we find that a sizable fraction of participants prefers to use a non-deterministic voting method over Plurality Voting to allocate monetary resources. However, this depends critically on their position within the group. Those in the majority show a strong preference for majoritarian voting methods.