Alex Ballyk

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Working Papers

Preference Aggregation in Social Choice Under Risk

Politicians, CEOs and various other types of dictators make social choices that influence both their own and others' welfare. When a dictator's preferred alternative differs from recipients', it is unclear which preferences they aggregate and how they determine this set of admissible preferences. This paper introduces an experimental framework that can answer these questions in two-person social choice problems, and applies it to study social choice under risk. I find that over one-third of dictators aggregate their recipient's risk preferences, and these aggregators admit wide ranges of preferences that are both more and less extreme than their own. However, risk-averse and -seeking aggregators favour preferences similar to theirs: risk-averse (-seeking) aggregators rarely admit risk-seeking (-averse) preferences. Additional results suggest that recipients' preferences carry the greatest weight when dictators' own preferences are incomplete. These findings highlight the context-dependence of social choice, which has important implications for the design of public and private institutions that rely on such decisions.

Works in Progress

Paternalistic Persuasion

Gender Differences in Job Application Strategies (with Annabel Thornton)