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Self-Organized Criticality in a Dynamic Game

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Abstract

We investigate conditions under which self-organized criticality (SOC) arises in a version of a dynamic entry game. In the simplest version of the game, there is a single location -- a pool -- and one agent is exogenously dropped into the pool every period. Payoffs to entrants are positive as long as the number of agents in the pool is below a critical level. Exiting results in a permanent payoff of zero. Agents in the pool decide simultaneously each period whether to stay in or not. We characterize the symmetric mixed strategy equilibrium of the resulting dynamic game. We then introduce local interactions between agents that occupy neighboring pools and demonstrate that, under our payoff structure, local interaction effects are necessary and sufficient for SOC and for an associated power law to emerge. Thus, we provide an explicit game-theoretic model of the mechanism through which SOC can arise in a social context with forward looking agents.

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