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On the evolution of conditional cooperation

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  • Guttman, Joel M.

Abstract

A long series of laboratory and field experiments, as well as conventional empirical studies, has established that (1) individuals voluntarily provide themselves with public goods at levels exceeding those predicted by the Nash voluntary contributions mechanism, and (2) agents reciprocate increases in the contributions of their counterparts in such settings (conditional cooperation). This paper presents a simple model of the evolution of preferences for conditional cooperation in the presence of a public good, which explains these two empirical findings without employing reputational or group selection arguments. In this model, individuals inherit preferences to match other agents' contributions to the provision of a public good, at some specified “matching rate.” Agents whose preferences induce them to be relatively successful – in material terms – increase in number, from one generation to the next. Under complete information and with randomly matched groups of N agents who have quasilinear preferences over the public good and a private good, the unique evolutionarily stable matching rate is 1, leading to Pareto optimal voluntary provision of the public good, regardless of group size N. The evolutionarily stable matching rate can be viewed as an endogenous social norm.

Suggested Citation

  • Guttman, Joel M., 2013. "On the evolution of conditional cooperation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 15-34.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:30:y:2013:i:c:p:15-34
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2012.11.003
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    Cited by:

    1. Bosworth, Steven & Singer, Tania & Snower, Dennis J., 2016. "Cooperation, motivation and social balance," Kiel Working Papers 2023, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    2. repec:kap:enreec:v:67:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10640-017-0126-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Steven J. Bosworth & Tania Singer & Dennis Snower, 2016. "Cooperation, Motivation and Social Balance," CESifo Working Paper Series 5763, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Reif, Christiane & Rübbelke, Dirk & Löschel, Andreas, 2014. "Improving voluntary public good provision by a non-governmental, endogenous matching mechanism: Experimental evidence," CAWM Discussion Papers 73, University of Münster, Center of Applied Economic Research Münster (CAWM).
    5. Wolfgang Buchholz & Wolfgang Peters & Aneta Ufert, 2014. "Spielräume für uni- und multilateralen Klimaschutz," Discussion Paper Series RECAP15 15, RECAP15, European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder).
    6. Bosworth, Steven J. & Singer, Tania & Snower, Dennis J., 2016. "Cooperation, motivation and social balance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 126(PB), pages 72-94.
    7. Bosworth, Steven & Singer, Tania & Snower, Dennis J., 2016. "Cooperation, Motivation and Social Balance," CEPR Discussion Papers 11131, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Bosworth, Steven J. & Singer, Tania & Snower, Dennis J., 2016. "Cooperation, Motivation and Social Balance," IZA Discussion Papers 9703, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Reciprocity; Conditional cooperation; Public goods; Social preferences; Cooperation;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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