[EM] Apportionment and minimum desirable legislature size?

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km_elmet at lavabit.com
Tue Apr 19 00:23:11 PDT 2011

Alex Small wrote:
> I've been following some of the apportionment threads, and wanted to 
> pose a related question:  Is there an optimal legislature size from the 
> standpoint of apportionment?

If you look at this from an optimization perspective, you have one 
objective that pulls in the direction of having as large a size as 
possible - and this objective is having as great representation as 
possible. In order for the answer to be anything less than "as large as 
possible", there must be some sort of counteracting force that increases 
as you get smaller.

The question, then, is "what is this force?"; and for that, I don't 
know. I have given some ideas earlier (such as the increasing 
difficulty, from a single representative's POV, in knowing about all the 
other representatives, as size increases), but even if these were the 
counteracting forces, it is not clear how strong they should be. There's 
a commensurability problem: how much does one additional representative 
count with respect to increased proportionality, and in contrast, how 
much "penalty" does one additional representative carry from the point 
of view of making the legislature unwieldy?

The questions don't seem to have clear answers, and therefore each 
nation has more or less chosen the distribution according to what "seems 
right", or by accumulation of historical inertia.

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