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An evolutionary analysis of the volunteer’s dilemma


Games and Economic Behavior



Publishing details

Games and Economic Behavior 2008 Vol 62:1 p 67-76

Authors / Editors

Myatt D P;Wallace C


Publication Year



A public good is produced if and only if a volunteer provides it. There are many pure-strategy Nash equilibria in each of which a single player volunteers. Noisy strategy revisions (for instance, quantal responses) allow play to evolve. Equilibrium selection is achieved via the characterisation of long-run play as revisions approximate best replies. The volunteer need not be the lowest-cost player: relatively high-cost, but nonetheless “reliable” players may instead produce the public good. More efficient players provide when higher values are associated with lower costs. Voluntary open-source software provision offers a contemporary application


Volunteer's dilemma; Public goods; Evolution; Equilibrium selection; Quantal response

Available on ECCH


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