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Beyond Grim: Punishment Norms in the Theory of Cooperation

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  • Gabriele Camera
  • Alessandro Gioffré

Abstract

The theory of repeated games asserts that, when past conduct is unobservable, patient individuals can attain the efficient outcome if cooperators suffer large losses to defectors, and react by forever defecting. This extreme "grim" punishment is, in fact, counterproductive when losses are small, as it prevents cooperation among patient players. Here we show how to resolve this non-existence problem. A class of moderate punishments exists, which support full cooperation independent of the size of losses to defectors. Our theory provides a rationale for the empirical observation that grim punishment is uncommon in laboratory studies of cooperation.

Suggested Citation

  • Gabriele Camera & Alessandro Gioffré, 2018. "Beyond Grim: Punishment Norms in the Theory of Cooperation," Working Papers - Economics wp2018_12.rdf, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Scienze per l'Economia e l'Impresa.
  • Handle: RePEc:frz:wpaper:wp2018_12.rdf
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    prisoner’s dilemma; random matching; social norms.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory

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