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Volunteer's Uncertainty Dilemma

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Tragic outcomes in emergency situations are commonly attributed to free-riding incentives. We show that uncertainty about the kind of situation (risky or not) can induce tragic outcomes in emergency situations even when free-riding incentives are absent. In equilibrium, potential volunteers rely on their private signals and the anticipated behavior of others when deciding whether to help. We characterize the equilibria and describe the influence of the likelihood of danger, the signal's quality, and the number of bystanders. We also discuss how policy instruments can align the private and the social incentives to volunteer.
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Keywords: SOCIAL DILEMMA; UNCERTAINTY; VOLUNTEER'S DILEMMA

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2018

This article was made available online on 15 March 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Volunteer's Uncertainty Dilemma".

More about this publication?
  • Founded as Zeitschrift für die gesamte Staatswissenschaft in 1844.

    As one of the oldest journals in the field of political economy, the Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE) deals traditionally with the problems of economics, social policy, and their legal framework. JITE is listed in the Journal of Economic Literature, the Social Science Citation Index, the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, and COREJ.

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    From 2013 on all accepted articles are published in an Online First version (in their final layout) to make them searchable and citable by their DOI immediately after peer review and acceptance. Once the article is published in an issue of the journal, the Online First version will be removed.

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