Lecture 21 - Repeated games: cooperation vs. the end game

author: Benjamin Polak, Department of Economics, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: Nov. 15, 2010,   recorded: September 2007,   views: 2992
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)
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Description

We discuss repeated games, aiming to unpack the intuition that the promise of rewards and the threat of punishment in the future of a relationship can provide incentives for good behavior today. In class, we play prisoners' dilemma twice and three times, but this fails to sustain cooperation. The problem is that, in the last stage, since there is then is future, there is no incentive to cooperate, and hence the incentives unravel from the back. We related this to the real-world problems of a lame duck leader and of maintaining incentives for those close to retirement. But it is possible to sustain good behavior in early stages of some repeated games (even if they are only played a few times) provided the stage games have two or more equilibria to be used as rewards and punishments. This may require us to play bad equilibria tomorrow. We relate this to the trade off between ex ante and ex post efficiency in the law. Finally, we play a game in which the players do not know when the game will end, and we start to consider strategies for this potentially infinitely repeated game.

Reading assignment:

Strategies and Games: Theory And Practice. (Dutta): Chapters 14-18

Strategy: An Introduction to Game Theory. (Watson): Chapters 22-23

Resources:

Blackboard Notes Lecture 21 [PDF]

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