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Sustaining Cooperation: Community Enforcement vs. Specialized Enforcement

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  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Alexander Wolitzky

Abstract

We introduce the possibility of direct punishment by specialized enforcers into a model of community enforcement. Specialized enforcers need to be given incentives to carry out costly punishments. Our main result shows that, when the specialized enforcement technology is sufficiently effective, cooperation is best sustained by a “single enforcer punishment equilibrium,” where any deviation by a regular agent is punished only once, and only by enforcers. In contrast, enforcers themselves are disciplined (at least in part) by community enforcement. The reason why there is no community enforcement following deviations by regular agent is that such actions, by reducing future cooperation, would decrease the amount of punishment that enforcers are willing to impose on deviators. Conversely, when the specialized enforcement technology is ineffective, optimal equilibria do punish deviations by regular agents with community enforcement. The model thus predicts that societies with more advanced enforcement technologies should rely on specialized enforcement, while less technologically advanced societies should rely on community enforcement. Our results hold both under perfect monitoring of actions and under various types of private monitoring.
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  • Daron Acemoglu & Alexander Wolitzky, 2015. "Sustaining Cooperation: Community Enforcement vs. Specialized Enforcement," Levine's Bibliography 786969000000001179, UCLA Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cla:levrem:786969000000001179
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    Cited by:

    1. Levine, David K. & Modica, Salvatore, 2016. "Peer discipline and incentives within groups," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 19-30.
    2. DeAngelo, Gregory & Gee, Laura Katherine, 2018. "Peers or Police? Detection and Sanctions in the Provision of Public Goods," IZA Discussion Papers 11540, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Anja Prummer, 2018. "Religious & Cultural Leaders," Working Papers 853, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
    4. Aldashev, Gani & Zanarone, Giorgio, 2017. "Endogenous enforcement institutions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 49-64.
    5. Pin, Paolo & Rogers, Brian W., 2015. "Cooperation, punishment and immigration," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 72-101.
    6. Xiang, Wang, 2020. "Who will watch the watchers? On optimal monitoring networks," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 187(C).
    7. Jan Falkowski & Pavel Ciaian, 2016. "Factors Supporting the Development of Producer Organizations and their Impacts in the Light of Ongoing Changes in Food Supply Chains: A Literature Review," JRC Working Papers JRC101617, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    8. DeAngelo, Gregory & Humphreys, Brad R. & Reimers, Imke, 2017. "Are public and private enforcement complements or substitutes? Evidence from high frequency data," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 151-163.
    9. Gani Aldashev & Giorgio Zanarone, 2014. "Endogenous Enforcement Institutions," Working Papers 1403, University of Namur, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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