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Rational Escalation

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Author Info

  • Demange, G.

Abstract

In many conflicts, protagonists commit resources that will not be returned. These situations, which often lead to apparently wasteful escalation, are well captured by the following "all-pay" auction. Two bidders bid repeatedly for a prize until one drops out. As usual the prize goes to the highest bidder but both bidders, the winner and the looser, pay their bids. Not only a process of escalation may be rational but it may be the only reasonable rational issue. We indeed prove that, if there is some uncertainty about the strength of the players, the only stable equilibrium may entail escalation. This result corroborates the idea that escalation is primarily a struggle to determine which player is the strongest one.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure) in its series DELTA Working Papers with number 91-24.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: 1991
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Annales de l'INSEE, 1992, pp. 227-249
Handle: RePEc:del:abcdef:91-24

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Keywords: game theory ; economic models;

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Cited by:
  1. Johannes Hörner & Nicolas Sahuguet, 2011. "A war of attrition with endogenous effort levels," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages 1-27, May.

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