Week 1 (10:1)- Why Governments? The Problems of Collective Action.pdf

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Political Science

The Problem of Collective Action (in general) situations in which rational behavior on the part of individuals leads to outcomes everyone dislikes [ex. a group knows a problem and has a common objective, but each individual has the "well, someone else will fix it" mentality] Problem #1 Coordination Problems occur when each member of the collectivity agrees on what it wants; each is prepared to contribute to the collective effort but must figure out how to coordinate his or her effort with those of others examples: radio stations (only one station per frequency), street signs, flight instructions (English), etc. Prisoner's Dilemmas arise when individuals who would be better off supporting a group agreement have incentives to help themselves instead (and at the expense of the group) Problem #2 Free-Rider Problems Everyone wants some collective good but everyone also has incentives not to help attain it Examples: clean air and water, The Oprah Moment (you get a car, you get a car, everyone gets a car), National Defense, etc. occurs whenever individuals are tempted to withhold their contribution to the group's efforts occurs when contributing 1) won't itself make a difference 2) won't get you any extra benefit Problem #3 Tragedy of the Commons Problems Everyone has some collective good
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