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Contest Success Functions: Theory and Evidence

  • Sung Ha Hwang

    ()

    (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

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

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Paper provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics in its series UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers with number 2009-04.

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Date of creation: Jun 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ums:papers:2009-04
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  1. Hao Jia, 2008. "A stochastic derivation of the ratio form of contest success functions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 135(3), pages 125-130, June.
  2. Stergios Skaperdas, 1996. "Contest success functions (*)," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 283-290.
  3. Garfinkel, Michelle R. & Skaperdas, Stergios, 2007. "Economics of Conflict: An Overview," Handbook of Defense Economics, Elsevier.
  4. 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.
  5. Fearon, James D., 1995. "Rationalist explanations for war," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(03), pages 379-414, June.
  6. Grossman, Herschel I, 1994. "Production, Appropriation, and Land Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 705-12, June.
  7. Hirshleifer, Jack, 1991. "The Technology of Conflict as an Economic Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 130-34, May.
  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).
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