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Contest Success Functions: Theory and Evidence

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  • Sung Ha Hwang

    () (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Abstract

Contest success functions, which show how probabilities of win- ning depend on resources devoted to a conflict, have been widely used in the literature addressing appropriative activities (economics), international and civil wars (political science), and group con?ict and selection (evolutionary biology). Two well-known forms of contest success functions predict contest outcomes from the difference between the resources of each side and from the ratio of resources. The analytical properties of a given conflict model, such as the existence of equilibrium, can be drastically changed simply by altering the form of the contest success function. Despite this problem, there is no consensus about which form is analytically better or empirically more plausi- ble. In this paper we propose an integrated form of contest success functions, which has the ratio form and the difference form as limiting cases, and study the analytical properties of this function. We also estimate different contest success functions to see which form is more empirically probable, using data from battles fought in seventeenth-century Europe and during World War II. JEL Categories: C70, D72, D74

Suggested Citation

  • Sung Ha Hwang, 2009. "Contest Success Functions: Theory and Evidence," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2009-04, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ums:papers:2009-04
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    File URL: http://www.umass.edu/economics/publications/2009-04.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fearon, James D., 1995. "Rationalist explanations for war," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(03), pages 379-414, June.
    2. Hirshleifer, Jack, 1991. "The Technology of Conflict as an Economic Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 130-134, May.
    3. N/A, 2006. "Economic Overview," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 196(1), pages 2-3, April.
    4. Grossman, Herschel I, 1994. "Production, Appropriation, and Land Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 705-712, June.
    5. Stergios Skaperdas, 1996. "Contest success functions (*)," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 7(2), pages 283-290.
    6. Hao Jia, 2008. "A stochastic derivation of the ratio form of contest success functions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 135(3), pages 125-130, June.
    7. Jack Hirshleifer, 1989. "Conflict and rent-seeking success functions: Ratio vs. difference models of relative success," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 63(2), pages 101-112, November.
    8. Konrad, Kai A., 2007. "Strategy in contests: an introduction
      [Strategie in Turnieren – eine Einführung]
      ," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2007-01, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    9. Garfinkel, Michelle R. & Skaperdas, Stergios, 2007. "Economics of Conflict: An Overview," Handbook of Defense Economics, Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Schroyen, Fred & Treich, Nicolas, 2016. "The power of money: Wealth effects in contests," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 46-68.
    2. Jia, Hao & Skaperdas, Stergios & Vaidya, Samarth, 2013. "Contest functions: Theoretical foundations and issues in estimation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 211-222.
    3. Hao Jia & Stergios Skaperdas, 2011. "Technologies of Conflict," Working Papers 101111, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
    4. Rowthorn, Robert & Seabright, Paul, 2010. "Property Rights, Warfare and the Neolithic Transition," TSE Working Papers 10-207, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Conflicts; Contest Success Functions;

    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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