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An Evolutionary Analysis of the Volunteer`s Dilemma

  • David P. Myatt
  • Chris Wallace

The volunteer`s dilemma is an asymmetric n-player binary-action game in which a public good is provided if and only if at least one player volunteers, and consequently bears some private cost. So long as the value generated for every player exceeds this private cost there are n pure-strategy Nash equilibria in each of which a single player volunteers. Quantal-response strategy revisions allow play to move between the different equilibria. A complete characterisation of long-run play as strategy revisions approximate best replies provides an equilibrium selection device. The volunteer need not be the lowest-cost player: relatively high-cost, but nonetheless stable players may instead provide the public good. The cost of provision is (weakly) reduced when higher values are associated with lower costs.

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 270.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2006
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:270
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  1. Bliss, Christopher & Nalebuff, Barry, 1984. "Dragon-slaying and ballroom dancing: The private supply of a public good," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1-2), pages 1-12, November.
  2. Kornhauser, Lewis A. & Rubinstein, Ariel & Wilson, Charles, 1986. "Reputation and Patience in the "War of Attrition"," Working Papers 86-31, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
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  11. David P. Myatt & Chris Wallace, 2008. "When Does One Bad Apple Spoil the Barrel? An Evolutionary Analysis of Collective Action," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(2), pages 499-527.
  12. Diekmann, Andreas, 1993. "Cooperation in an Asymmetric Volunteer's Dilemma Game: Theory and Experimental Evidence," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 22(1), pages 75-85.
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  19. David P. Myatt, 2005. "Instant Exit from the Asymmetric War of Attrition," Economics Series Working Papers 160, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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