Rents, Dissipation, and Lost Treasures: Rethinking Tullock's Paradox

14 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2003

See all articles by Giuseppe Dari‐Mattiacci

Giuseppe Dari‐Mattiacci

Columbia University - Law School

Francesco Parisi

University of Minnesota - Law School; University of Bologna


In this paper we revisit Tullock's (1980) paradox and consider a rent-seeking game in which parties face increasing returns to effort. We allow parties to randomize their strategies and give them an exit option. Given the mixed participation strategies of the parties, valuable rents may occasionally remain unexploited. We consider such a lost-treasure effect as an additional cost of rent-seeking and examine how the expected value of such a lost rent varies with changes in the parameters of the problem.

Keywords: rent-seeking, rent dissipation, Tullock's paradox

JEL Classification: C72, D72

Suggested Citation

Dari-Mattiacci, Giuseppe and Parisi, Francesco, Rents, Dissipation, and Lost Treasures: Rethinking Tullock's Paradox. Public Choice, Vol. 124, Nos. 3-4, pp. 411-422, September 2005; George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 03-53. Available at SSRN: or

Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci

Columbia University - Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States


Francesco Parisi (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Law School ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

University of Bologna ( email )

Piazza Scaravilli 1
40126 Bologna, fc 47100

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