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The Emergence of Enforcement

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Abstract

How do mechanisms that enforce cooperation emerge in a society where none are available and agents are endowed with raw power, that allows a more powerful agent to expropriate a less powerful one? We study a model where expropriation is costly and agents can choose whether to engage in surplus-augmenting cooperation or engage in expropriation. While in bilateral relations, if cooperation is not overwhelmingly productive and expropriation is not too costly, the latter will prevent cooperation, when there are three or more agents, powerful ones can become enforcers of cooperation for agents ranked below them. In equilibrium they will expropriate smaller amounts from multiple weaker cooperating agents who in turn will not deviate for fear of being expropriated more heavily because of their larger expropriation proceeds. Surprisingly, the details of the power structure are irrelevant for the existence of equilibria with enforcement provided that enough agents are present and one is ranked above all others. These details are instead key to the existence of other highly non-cooperative equilibria that obtain in certain cases.

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  • Luca Anderlini & Leonardo Felli & Michele Piccione, 2023. "The Emergence of Enforcement," Working Papers gueconwpa~23-23-06, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:geo:guwopa:gueconwpa~23-23-06
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Jungle; Power Structures; Enforcement; Rule of Law;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C79 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Other
    • D00 - Microeconomics - - General - - - General
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • K19 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Other
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • K49 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Other

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