We conduct an experiment to assess the effects of different decision rules on the costs of decision making in a multilateral bargaining situation. Specifically, we compare the amount of costly delay observed in an experimental bargaining game under majority and unanimity rule. Our main finding is that individual subjects are more likely to reject offers under unanimity rule. This higher rejection rate, as well as the requirement that all subjects agree, leads to more costly delay. This result provides empirical support for a classic argument in favor of less-than-unanimity decision rules put forth by Buchanan and Tullock (The calculus of consent: logical foundations of constitutional democracy, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1962).
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