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Evolution in Mechanisms for Public Projects.

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Abstract

This paper considers the explicit, real time dynamic processes in which cooperation emerges in a class of binary decision mechanisms, each of which determines funding for a public project. This class includes the Voluntary Contribution and the Majority Voting mechanisms. The population is subject to "turnover" so that new individuals enter society with possibly different beliefs about the future evolution of societal behavior than their predecessors. Individuals in this society maximize their discounted expected utilities. Due to the frequent turnover, however, these expectations may not be mutually consistent. Nevertheless, we find, for each mechanism, the nonempty set of the parameters for which the behavior pattern starting from states with nonprovision is absorbed into states with full provision with probability one. Moreover, for a sufficiently large population, outcomes with full provision are absorbing states if and only if certain types of voting mechanisms are used.

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