Do we have enough politicians?

Do we have enough politicians? This is a quantity not quality issue. Here are my notes … 

  1. How strong is the case for reducing the number of MPs (, the authors, Lewis Baston and Stuart Wilks-Heeg, say, “In this short paper, we pose three important questions in relation to the government’s own rationale for reducing the number of MPs. First, is the House of Commons is really ‘too big’? Second, is the number of MPs really growing, and without justification? Third, will reducing the number of MPs really save money?”
  2. The More the Merrier? Choosing the optimal number of representatives in modern democracies by Auriol and Gary-Bobo. They say, “Having too few members of parliament means parliament is likely to be un-representative, but it seems that having too many makes it easy for vested interests to buy influence. Simple logic suggests that the optimal number of MEPs should be proportional to the square root of the population. Empirical work suggests that nations with a much higher number of MEPs tend to be plagued by red-tape and corruption. They authored a paper, “On the optimal number of representatives” in which they pose their optimal number rule.

Elements of this issue have been explored in two blog articles, by me,

One Person, One Vote



Baston & Wilks-Heeg, say that the UK is under provided with elected politicians, Arnold & Gary-Bobo say that the UK is marginally over provided, while the USA is dramatically under-provided but they are wedded to their sq. root rule which I for one have not bought into, yet, maybe?

The footnote to the Arnold & Gary-Bobo says,

The classic work on these questions is J. Buchanan and G. Tullock (1962), “The calculus of consent”, University of Michigan Press. On voting theory, see Austen-Smith and Banks (1999), “Positive Political Theory”, University of Michigan Press; see also H. Moulin (1988), Axioms of Cooperative Decision-Making, Cambridge University Press. On recent developments of the “Public Choice” literature, see Mueller (2003), “Public Choice III”, Cambridge University Press. Our own paper is available at; as far as we know, our argument for the “square-root formula”, based on Mechanism Design, is new.

The Calculus of Consent has a wikipedia page.

We might be informed by the size of large Union conferences? GMB with about 650,000 members has ~520 delegates and USDAW’s rules imply a conference of around 900. I am looking for the rest of the TU numbers through informal sources.

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