June 2011

IZA DP No. 5782: Symmetric and Asymmetric Committees

published in: Journal of Mathematical Economics, 2011, 47 (5), 440-447

This paper studies the assignment of decision makers to two committees that make decisions by a simple majority rule. There is an even number of decision makers at each of various skill levels and each committee has an odd number of members. Surprisingly, even with the symmetric assumptions in the spirit of Condorcet, a symmetric composition of committees is not always optimal. In other words, decision makers with different skill levels should not generally be evenly divided among the committees. However, in the special case of only two skill levels, it is optimal to compose the committees evenly.