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Heterogeneity, impatience, and dynamic private provision of a discrete public good

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Journal of Public Economic Theory

Published online on


We analyze dynamic private provision of a discrete public good by heterogeneous agents, who differ in terms of their levels of impatience, in a differential game framework. In contrast to the strategic complementarity result for homogeneous individuals, we show that an asymmetric completion Markov perfect equilibrium exists, where the individual contributions and the strategic behaviors depend crucially on an impatience differential: the difference in rates of time preference across groups of individuals. When this differential is insignificant, contributions of both types of individuals are strategic complements. On the other hand, when this impatience differential exceeds a threshold, the contributions of impatient individuals become strategic substitutes, whereas the contributions of patient individuals remain strategic complements. We show that group size has an interesting role to play in the strategic behavior: increasing the number of patient individuals aggravates the incentives to free‐ride by the impatient agents. We also derive a condition under which all the socially beneficial projects get completed in the equilibrium.