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

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Department
Political Science
Course
POL SCI 21A
Professor
Beckman
Semester
Fall

Description
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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