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Larger groups may alleviate collective action problems

  • Sung Ha Hwang


    (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

This paper shows how larger group size can enhance punishing behavior in social dilemmas and hence support higher levels of cooperation. We focus on describing conflict technology using Lanchester's equations and study the role of "collectivity" of punishment to support cooperation in large groups. The main results suggest that as long as defectors are, even slightly, less "collective" than punishers, Lanchester's law can be applied to show that a smaller proportion of punishers can successfully eliminate defectors as the size of the population increases. JEL Categories:

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Paper provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics in its series UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers with number 2009-05.

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Date of creation: Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ums:papers:2009-05
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  1. Sethi, Rajiv & Somanathan, E, 2006. "A Simple Model of Collective Action," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(3), pages 725-47, April.
  2. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," IEW - Working Papers 010, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  3. Jeffrey Carpenter, 2002. "Punishing Free Riders: how group size affects mutual monitoring and the provision of public goods," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0206, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  4. Haan, M. & Kooreman, P., 2000. "Free riding and the provision of candy bars," Research Report 00F48, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
  5. Isaac, R. Mark & Walker, James M. & Williams, Arlington W., 1994. "Group size and the voluntary provision of public goods : Experimental evidence utilizing large groups," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-36, May.
  6. Isaac, R Mark & Walker, James M, 1988. "Group Size Effects in Public Goods Provision: The Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(1), pages 179-99, February.
  7. Kandori, M. & Mailath, G.J., 1991. "Learning, Mutation, And Long Run Equilibria In Games," Papers 71, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - John M. Olin Program.
  8. Bagnoli, Mark & McKee, Michael, 1991. "Voluntary Contribution Games: Efficient Private Provision of Public Goods," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(2), pages 351-66, April.
  9. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1999. "Conflict and Distribution," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 379-415, August.
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