Punishing Just in Time: Public Cooperation and Economies of Scale

44 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2013

See all articles by Ye Hang

Ye Hang

Zhejiang University - College of Economics

Hong Zhang

Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics (ZUFE) - School of Economics

Tan Fei

Zhejiang University - College of Economics; Indiana University

Yefeng Chen

Zhejiang University - College of Economics

Jia Yongmin

Zhejiang University - College of Economics

Date Written: July 23, 2013

Abstract

Punishing defectors is an important mechanism maintaining public cooperation. However, punishment is risky, how can costly punishment arise and evolve? Here is a major problem of explaining cooperative behavior. A computer simulation of the public goods game with increasing returns to scale was conducted. We found that if the returns are large enough punishers will obtain evolutionary advantage and form a lasting threat to the defectors, thus maintaining the order of cooperation. History shows when a nation suffers from calamities, invasion or terrorist, people are much easier to reach consensus of public cooperation and punishing defection. During the prehistoric age, the number of contributors was decisive in collective action such as fighting monstrous floods, hunting large game, and defending tribal territory. These all are examples of cooperation with large returns to scale. Our findings are surprising. It seems to be a delicate design of Nature: the more the need for cooperation, the more frequently it will emerge.

Keywords: Public Goods Game, Cooperation, Social Dilemma, Co-Evolution, Returns to scale, Punishment

Suggested Citation

Hang, Ye and Zhang, Hong and Fei, Tan and Chen, Yefeng and Yongmin, Jia, Punishing Just in Time: Public Cooperation and Economies of Scale (July 23, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2305100 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2305100

Ye Hang (Contact Author)

Zhejiang University - College of Economics ( email )

Yuquan Campus 38 Zheda Road
Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310027
China

Hong Zhang

Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics (ZUFE) - School of Economics ( email )

Hangzhou
China

Tan Fei

Zhejiang University - College of Economics ( email )

Yuquan Campus 38 Zheda Road
Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310027
China

Indiana University ( email )

107 S Indiana Ave
100 South Woodlawn
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Yefeng Chen

Zhejiang University - College of Economics ( email )

Yuquan Campus 38 Zheda Road
Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310027
China

Jia Yongmin

Zhejiang University - College of Economics ( email )

Yuquan Campus 38 Zheda Road
Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310027
China

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