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Contests over Public Goods: Evolutionary Stability and the Free-Rider Problem


  • Wolfgang Leininger


We analyze group contests for public goods by applying the solution concept of an evolutionary stable strategy (ESS). We show that a global ESS cannot exist, because a mutant free-rider can always invade group behavior succesfully. There does exist, however, a unique local ESS, which we identify with evolutionary equilibrium. It coincides with Nash equilibrium, the hitherto dominant solution concept in contest theory, if and only if groups are symmetric. For asymmetric groups it always proposes a different and arguably more sensible solution than Nash equilibrium. We explore the properties of (local) ESS in detail.

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  • Wolfgang Leininger, 2002. "Contests over Public Goods: Evolutionary Stability and the Free-Rider Problem," Discussion Papers in Economics 02_02, University of Dortmund, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mik:wpaper:02_02

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gale, Douglas & Rosenthal, Robert W., 1999. "Experimentation, Imitation, and Stochastic Stability," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-40, January.
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    3. Schenk-Hoppe, Klaus Reiner, 2000. "The evolution of Walrasian behavior in oligopolies," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 35-55, February.
    4. Gale, Douglas & Rosenthal, Robert W., 2001. "Experimentation, Imitation, and Stochastic Stability: Addendum," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 164-174, March.
    5. Conlisk, John, 1980. "Costly optimizers versus cheap imitators," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 275-293, September.
    6. Kandori, Michihiro & Mailath, George J & Rob, Rafael, 1993. "Learning, Mutation, and Long Run Equilibria in Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 29-56, January.
    7. Fernando Vega-Redondo, 1997. "The Evolution of Walrasian Behavior," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(2), pages 375-384, March.
    8. Rhode, Paul & Stegeman, Mark, 2001. "Non-Nash equilibria of Darwinian dynamics with applications to duopoly," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(3-4), pages 415-453, March.
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