IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Efficiency and stability of sampling equilibrium in public goods games


  • César Mantilla
  • Rajiv Sethi
  • Juan Camilo Cárdenas


Most models of social preferences and bounded rationality that are effective in explaining efficiency‐increasing departures from equilibrium behavior cannot easily account for similar deviations when they are efficiency‐reducing. We show that the notion of sampling equilibrium, subject to a suitable stability refinement, can account for behavior in both efficiency‐enhancing and efficiency‐reducing conditions. In particular, in public goods games with dominant strategy equilibria, stable sampling equilibrium can involve the play of dominated strategies with positive probability both when such behavior increases aggregate payoffs (relative to the standard prediction) and when it reduces aggregate payoffs. The dominant strategy equilibrium prediction changes abruptly from zero contribution to full contribution as a parameter crosses a threshold, whereas the stable sampling equilibrium remains fully mixed throughout. This is consistent with the available experimental evidence.

Suggested Citation

  • César Mantilla & Rajiv Sethi & Juan Camilo Cárdenas, 2020. "Efficiency and stability of sampling equilibrium in public goods games," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 22(2), pages 355-370, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jpbect:v:22:y:2020:i:2:p:355-370
    DOI: 10.1111/jpet.12351

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Sandholm, William H. & Izquierdo, Segismundo S. & Izquierdo, Luis R., 2020. "Stability for best experienced payoff dynamics," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 185(C).
    2. Sawa, Ryoji & Wu, Jiabin, 2023. "Statistical inference in evolutionary dynamics," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 294-316.
    3. Izquierdo, Segismundo S. & Izquierdo, Luis R., 2023. "Strategy sets closed under payoff sampling," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 126-142.
    4. Arigapudi, Srinivas & Heller, Yuval & Milchtaich, Igal, 2020. "Instability of Defection in the Prisoner’s Dilemma: Best Experienced Payoff Dynamics Analysis," MPRA Paper 99594, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Sandholm, William H. & Izquierdo, Segismundo S. & Izquierdo, Luis R., 2019. "Best experienced payoff dynamics and cooperation in the Centipede game," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 14(4), November.
    6. Yuval Salant & Josh Cherry, 2020. "Statistical Inference in Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 88(4), pages 1725-1752, July.
    7. Ryoji Sawa, 2022. "Statistical Inference in Evolutionary Dynamics," Working Papers e170, Tokyo Center for Economic Research.
    8. Berkemer, Rainer & Starke, Jens & Kawamoto, Atsushi, 2023. "Sampling dynamics applied to the traveler's dilemma reveals non-Nash behavior," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 339-356.
    9. Srinivas Arigapudi & Yuval Heller & Amnon Schreiber, 2021. "Sampling dynamics and stable mixing in hawk-dove games," Papers 2107.08423,, revised Jun 2022.
    10. Sethi, Rajiv, 2021. "Stable sampling in repeated games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 197(C).
    11. Jonathan Newton, 2018. "Evolutionary Game Theory: A Renaissance," Games, MDPI, vol. 9(2), pages 1-67, May.
    12. Wang, Chaoqian & Pan, Qiuhui & Ju, Xinxiang & He, Mingfeng, 2021. "Public goods game with the interdependence of different cooperative strategies," Chaos, Solitons & Fractals, Elsevier, vol. 146(C).
    13. Izquierdo, Segismundo S. & Izquierdo, Luis R., 2022. "Stability of strict equilibria in best experienced payoff dynamics: Simple formulas and applications," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 206(C).
    14. Arigapudi, Srinivas & Heller, Yuval & Schreiber, Amnon, 2021. "Sampling Dynamics and Stable Mixing in Hawk–Dove Games," MPRA Paper 108819, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Srinivas Arigapudi & Yuval Heller & Igal Milchtaich, 2020. "Instability of Defection in the Prisoner's Dilemma Under Best Experienced Payoff Dynamics," Papers 2005.05779,, revised Jan 2021.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:jpbect:v:22:y:2020:i:2:p:355-370. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Wiley Content Delivery (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.