An Empirical Test of Social Choice Theories of Disequilibrium

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This paper is an empirical test of 'institution-free' theories of democratic procedures exemplified by Kenneth Arrow and William Riker. 'Social choice' theorists claim that instability is the likely result of a pure majority-rule institution, but such a claim has not been subjected to a great deal of empirical scrutiny. In this paper I test the arguments of social choice theory using the American Continental Congress (1774-89) which was, perhaps, the most democratic legislative institution that has ever existed. I conclude that there is a strong possibility of instability in democratic institutions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-332
JournalAustralian Journal of Political Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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