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On the Evolution of Altruism


  • Stark, Oded

    (Department of Economics, University of Oslo)


We demonstrate how altruism can flourish in a population of nonaltruists. We assume that each individual plays a one-shot prisoner's dilemma game with his or her sibling and that the probability than an individual survives to reproduce is proportional to his or her payoff in this game. We model the formation of couples and the rule of imitation of parents and of nonparents. We then ask what happens to the proportion of altruists in the population. We specify a case where the unique and stable equilibrium is one in which the entire population will consist of altruists.

Suggested Citation

  • Stark, Oded, 1997. "On the Evolution of Altruism," Economics Series 46, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ihs:ihsesp:46

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stark, Oded, 1995. " Return and Dynamics: The Path of Labor Migration When Workers Differ in Their Skills and Information Is Asymmetric," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(1), pages 55-71, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Juan Camilo Cárdenas, 2009. "Experiments in Environment and Development," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 157-182, September.

    More about this item


    Altruism; Evolution; Imitation; Equilibrium;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • D00 - Microeconomics - - General - - - General


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