Game of Variable Contributions to the Common Good Under Uncertainty

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We consider a stochastic game of contribution to the common good in which the players have continuous control over the degree of contribution, and we examine the gradualism arising from the free rider effect. This game belongs to the class of variable concession games that generalize wars of attrition. Previously known examples of variable concession games in the literature yield equilibria characterized by singular control strategies without any delay of concession. However, these no-delay equilibria are in contrast to mixed-strategy equilibria of canonical wars of attrition in which each player delays concession by a randomized time. We find that a variable contribution game with a single state variable, which extends the Nerlove–Arrow model, possesses an equilibrium characterized by regular control strategies that result in a gradual concession. This equilibrium naturally generalizes the mixed-strategy equilibria from the canonical wars of attrition. Stochasticity of the problem accentuates the qualitative difference between a singular control solution and a regular control equilibrium solution. We also find that asymmetry between the players can mitigate the inefficiency caused by the gradualism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1359-1370
Number of pages12
JournalOperations Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2022


  • free rider problem
  • gradualism
  • Nerlove–Arrow model
  • stochastic control game
  • war of attrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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