Models in political economy

Collective choice, voting, elections, bargaining, and rebellion

by Martin J. Osborne

I am currently working on Models in political economy, which presents some of the main models in the field of political economy. Political economy, as the term is used by economists, is the study of the methods by which societies make collective decisions, whether by elections or by oligarchs, autocrats, or dictators. The book covers the areas of collective choice, voting, electoral competition, bargaining, and rebellion.

All the models are defined precisely and the results are proved in detail. All the formal content — definitions and results — is contained in boxes. This material is self-contained and can in principle be read independently of the informal discussion. Every term in these boxes that has a technical meaning, other than basic mathematical terms, is hyperlinked to its definition. If you click on the hyperlink you are taken to the definition. Your pdf viewer probably allows you to return to where you were by holding the Alt key down and pressing the key (the left arrow key on the cursor pad).

A complete revised draft is now (June 2024) available. I expect to make only a few changes in the remainder of 2024, and then read through the whole draft once more in early 2025 before it is published. After publication, the complete book will remain freely available in electronic form.

current draft

Models in political economy, version 2024.6.13

If you find mistakes, omissions, or hard-to-follow arguments, or have other suggestions for improvements, please let me know (martin.j.osborne on gmail).


Revision of Chapters 15 (Rulers threatened by rebellion) and 16 (Preferences, profiles, and games).
Revision of Chapter 14 (Bargaining).
Revision of Chapter 13 (Two-period electoral competition with imperfect information), including replacement of what was Section 13.1 with two sections, with much simpler models).
Revision of Chapter 12 (Money in electoral competition), including removal of what was Section 12.2.
Revision of Chapter 11 (Distributive politics), with major changes in Sections 10.2 and 10.3.
Revision of Chapter 10 (Electoral competition: endogenous candidates), with major changes in Section 10.1 and corrections and improvements throughout.
Correction in section on repeated elections in Chapter 9.
Revision of Chapter 9 (Electoral competition: two policy-motivated candidates), with addition of section on repeated elections, and revision of section on single-crossing preferences and addition of Nash social welfare ordering in Chapter 1 (Collective choice with known preferences).
Revision of Chapter 8 (Electoral competition: two office-motivated candidates).
Revision of Chapter 7 (Voting with shared values and asymmetric information).
Revision of Chapter 4 (Voting with many alternatives: plurality rule).
Revision of Chapter 6 (Ethical and expressive voting).
Addition of axiomatic characterization of utilitarianism in Section 1.8 and various improvements in the rest of Chapter 1.
Addition of single-peakedness on trees in Chapter 1, simplification of Section 3.2 in Chapter 3 (restriction to case in which some coats are less than 1/2 and some are greater than 1/2), and many improvements in Chapter 5, including the addition of Section 5.4.
Improvements in Chapter 1 and correction of error in Proposition 4.3c.
Improvements in Chapters 1 and 2.
Correction of error in synopsis for Chapter 3 plus correction of typos.
Improvements in Chapter 1 (most significant: single-crossing, proofs of Propositions 1.2 and 1.3).
Addition of subtitle.
First complete draft.