On the transmission of democratic values


We study whether democratic values that govern the preferences over social choice rules are subject to intergenerational transmission. We focus on five social choice rules, namely, Plurality, Plurality with Runoff, the Majoritarian Compromise, Borda Rule and Social Compromise, that represent very diverse values about how to extract public will out of individual opinions. In our experiment, students and their parents are confronted with hypothetical preference profiles and are asked to decide which alternative should be chosen for the society. The design of the hypothetical preference profiles allows us to interpret a subject’s choice of an alternative as her revealed preference for one of the focused social choice rules. We find significant differences between the rules most often chosen by the parents (Majoritarian Compromise and Plurality) and those by the students (Social Compromise). Analyzing the relation between the preferences over social choice rules for each parent-offspring pair, we find support for the hypothesis of parental transmission of preferences.