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The build-up of cooperative behavior among non-cooperative selfish agents

  • Benchekroun, Hassan
  • Long, Ngo Van

We develop a theoretical model in which each individual is, in some ultimate sense, motivated by purely egoistic satisfaction derived from the goods accruing to him, but there is an implicit social contract such that each performs duties for the others in a way that enhances the satisfaction of all. We introduce a state variable that acts as a proxy for social capital of trustworthiness and that we call the stock of cooperation. We show that non-cooperative agents might condition their action on this state variable. Agents build-up the society's stock of cooperation and gradually overcome the free riding problem in a game of private contribution to a public good. We assume that there are neither penalties in the sense of trigger strategies, nor guilt and that each individual is rational.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 67 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
Pages: 239-252

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:67:y:2008:i:1:p:239-252
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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  8. Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  17. Knack, Stephen & Keefer, Philip, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-88, November.
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  19. Guth, Werner & Ockenfels, Peter & Wendel, Markus, 1997. "Cooperation based on trust. An experimental investigation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 15-43, February.
  20. Bisin, Alberto & Verdier, Thierry, 2001. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and the Dynamics of Preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 298-319, April.
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