Cycles of cooperation and free-riding in social systems
Basic evidences on non-profit making and other forms of benevolent-based organizations reveal a rough partition of members between somepure consumers of the public good (free-riders) and benevolent individuals (cooperators). We study the relationship between the community size and the level of cooperation in a simple model where the utility of joining the community is proportional to its size. We assume an idiosyncratic willingness to join the community ; cooperation bears a fixed cost while free-riding bears a (moral) idiosyncratic cost proportional to the fraction of cooperators. We show that the system presents two types of equilibria: fixed points (Nash equilibria) with a mixture of cooperators and free-riders and cycles where the size of the community, as well as the proportion of cooperators and free-riders, vary periodically.
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Volume (Year): 71 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
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