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Evolutionary Dynamics in Public Good Games

  • Christiane Clemens


  • Thomas Riechmann


This paper explores the question whether boundedly rational agents learn to behave optimally when asked to voluntarily contribute to a public good. The dynamic game is described by an Evolutionary Algorithm, which is shown to extend the applicability of ordinary replicator dynamics of evolutionary game theory to problem sets characterized by finite populations and continuous strategy spaces. We analyze the learning process of purely and impurely altruistic agents and find in both cases the contribution level to converge towards the Nash equilibrium. The group size, the degree of initial heterogeneity and the propensity to experiment are key factors of the learning process. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

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Article provided by Society for Computational Economics in its journal Computational Economics.

Volume (Year): 28 (2006)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 399-420

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Handle: RePEc:kap:compec:v:28:y:2006:i:4:p:399-420
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  1. Varian, Hal R., 1994. "Sequential contributions to public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 165-186, February.
  2. repec:att:wimass:9325 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Gale, John & Binmore, Kenneth G. & Samuelson, Larry, 1995. "Learning to be imperfect: The ultimatum game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 56-90.
  4. Isaac, R. Mark & McCue, Kenneth F. & Plott, Charles R., . "Public Goods Provision in an Experimental Environment," Working Papers 428, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  5. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
  6. Fershtman, Chaim & Nitzan, Shmuel, 1991. "Dynamic voluntary provision of public goods," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 1057-1067, July.
  7. Bliss, Christopher & Nalebuff, Barry, 1984. "Dragon-slaying and ballroom dancing: The private supply of a public good," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1-2), pages 1-12, November.
  8. Chris Birchenhall & Nikos Kastrinos & Stan Metcalfe, 1997. "Genetic algorithms in evolutionary modelling," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 375-393.
  9. Thomas Riechmann, 1999. "Learning and behavioral stability An economic interpretation of genetic algorithms," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 225-242.
  10. Dixit, Avinash & Olson, Mancur, 2000. "Does voluntary participation undermine the Coase Theorem?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 309-335, June.
  11. Riechmann, Thomas, 2001. "Genetic algorithm learning and evolutionary games," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 25(6-7), pages 1019-1037, June.
  12. Jorgen W. Weibull, 1997. "Evolutionary Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262731215, June.
  13. Metcalfe, J S, 1994. "Competition, Fisher's Principle and Increasing Returns in the Selection Process," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 4(4), pages 327-46, November.
  14. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Privately provided public goods in a large economy: The limits of altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 57-73, February.
  15. Young, H Peyton, 1993. "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 57-84, January.
  16. Gradstein, Mark, 1992. "Time Dynamics and Incomplete Information in the Private Provision of Public Goods," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 581-97, June.
  17. R. Isaac & James Walker & Susan Thomas, 1984. "Divergent evidence on free riding: An experimental examination of possible explanations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 113-149, January.
  18. Sugden, Robert, 1985. "Consistent conjectures and voluntary contributions to public goods: why the conventional theory does not work," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 117-124, June.
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