Assortativity Evolving from Social Dilemmas

29 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2015 Last revised: 24 Dec 2015

See all articles by Heinrich H. Nax

Heinrich H. Nax

ETH Zürich; University of Zurich

Alexandros Rigos

Lund University - Department of Economics

Date Written: December 22, 2015


Assortative mechanisms can overcome tragedies of the commons that otherwise result in dilemma situations. Assortativity criteria include genetics (e.g. kin selection), preferences (e.g. homophily), locations (e.g. spatial interaction) and actions (e.g. meritocracy), usually presuming an exogenously fixed matching mechanism. Here, we endogenize the matching process with the aim of investigating how assortativity itself, jointly with cooperation, is driven by evolution. Our main finding is that only full-or-null assortativities turn out to be long-run stable, their relative stabilities depending on the exact incentive structure of the underlying social dilemma. The resulting social loss is evaluated for general classes of dilemma games, thus quantifying to what extent tragedy of the commons may be endogenously overcome.

Keywords: cooperation, (co-)evolution, assortativity, democratic consensus

JEL Classification: C62, C72, Z00

Suggested Citation

Nax, Heinrich H. and Rigos, Alexandros, Assortativity Evolving from Social Dilemmas (December 22, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Heinrich H. Nax (Contact Author)

ETH Zürich ( email )

Rämistrasse 101
Zürich, 8092

University of Zurich ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zürich, CH-8006

Alexandros Rigos

Lund University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7082
S-220 07 Lund


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