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The Scope of Cooperation: values and incentives

Listed author(s):
  • Guido Tabellini

What explains the range of situations in which individuals cooperate? This paper studies a theoretical model where individuals respond to incentives but are also influenced by norms of good conduct inherited from earlier generations. Parents rationally choose what values to transmit to their offspring, and this choice is influenced by the quality of external enforcement and the pattern of likely future transactions. The equilibrium displays strategic complementarities between values and current behavior, which reinforce the effects of changes in the external environment. Values evolve gradually over time, and if the quality of external enforcement is chosen under majority rule, there is histeresis: adverse initial conditions may lead to a unique equilibrium path where external enforcement remains weak and individual values discourage cooperation.

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File URL: ftp://ftp.igier.uni-bocconi.it/wp/2007/328.pdf
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Paper provided by IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University in its series Working Papers with number 328.

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Date of creation: 2007
Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:328
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