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Does Voting Solve the Intergenerational Sustainability Dilemma?

Shun Katsuki () and Yoichi Hizen
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Shun Katsuki: School of Economics and Management, Kochi University of Technology, 2-22 Eikokuji-cho, Kochi-shi, Kochi 780-8515, Japan

Sustainability, 2020, vol. 12, issue 16, 1-1

Abstract: Does voting solve the intergenerational sustainability dilemma? Do voting rules matter when trying to induce people to collectively select a sustainable alternative that leaves more resources for future generations? To answer these questions, we conducted a laboratory experiment using an intergenerational sustainability dilemma game in which players are asked to choose between two alternatives. Choosing the alternative that maximizes the players’ immediate benefit decreases the resources left for subsequent generations. The choice is made by the votes cast within small groups representing successive generations. We compare three voting rules: ordinary voting, whereby each person in the group has one vote; proxy voting, whereby some but not all of the players are given an extra vote to cast on behalf of subsequent generations; and two-ballot voting, whereby all players are given an extra vote. We observe that both proxy voting and two-ballot voting increase the frequency at which the sustainable alternative is selected; however, the frequency of such a choice remains low. This suggests that voting individually is a relatively ineffective way to elicit sustainable choices from successive generations even if the rules of voting are modified.

Keywords: proxy vote; intergenerational sustainability dilemma; future generation; laboratory experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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