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Volunteering and the Strategic Value of Ignorance


  • Florian Morath


Private provision of public goods often takes place as a war of attrition: individuals wait until someone else volunteers and provides the good. After a certain time period, however, one individual may be randomly selected. If the individuals are uncertain about their cost of provision, but can find out about this cost ahead of the volunteering game, a strategic value is attached to the information, and individuals may prefer not to learn their cost of provision. If the time horizon is sufficiently short, in equilibrium only one individual may acquire information about his cost. For a long time horizon, acquiring information is strictly dominant. The time limit is an important instrument in influencing the efficiency of the volunteering game.

Suggested Citation

  • Florian Morath, 2011. "Volunteering and the Strategic Value of Ignorance," CESifo Working Paper Series 3419, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3419

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kyungmin Kim & Frances Zhiyun Xu Lee, 2014. "Information Acquisition in a War of Attrition," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 37-78, May.

    More about this item


    war of attrition; volunteering; discrete public goods; asymmetric information; information acquisition;

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness


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