Participatory Budgeting Designs for the Real World


  • Roy Fairstein Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
  • Gerdus Benadè Boston University, USA
  • Kobi Gal Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel University of Edinburgh, UK



GTEP: Social Choice / Voting, APP: Energy, Environment & Sustainability, HAI: Human-Computer Interaction


Participatory budgeting engages the public in the process of allocating public money to different types of projects. PB designs differ in how voters are asked to express their preferences over candidate projects and how these preferences are aggregated to determine which projects to fund. This paper studies two fundamental questions in PB design. Which voting format and aggregation method to use, and how to evaluate the outcomes of these design decisions? We conduct an extensive empirical study in which 1 800 participants vote in four participatory budgeting elections in a controlled setting to evaluate the practical effects of the choice of voting format and aggregation rule.We find that k-approval leads to the best user experience. With respect to the aggregation rule, greedy aggregation leads to outcomes that are highly sensitive to the input format used and the fraction of the population that participates. The method of equal shares, in contrast, leads to outcomes that are not sensitive to the type of voting format used, and these outcomes are remarkably stable even when the majority of the population does not participate in the election. These results carry valuable insights for PB practitioners and social choice researchers.




How to Cite

Fairstein, R., Benadè, G., & Gal, K. (2023). Participatory Budgeting Designs for the Real World. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 37(5), 5633-5640.



AAAI Technical Track on Game Theory and Economic Paradigms