Free Riders


This project investigates the question of public goods in our society, like e.g. roads or public infrastructure, police, the fire brigade or the health system. How can we make sure that everybody contributes to common welfare, e.g. by paying taxes or contributions? If we are using the classical Public-Goods game as a model for these kinds of systems, then there will always be a clear answer: The system will not work and there will always be a fraction of cheaters or free riders.

How about systems in which players do not contribute equally to or benefit equally from the public good? The goal of this project was to investigate these kinds of asymmetric Public-Goods games via agent-based simulation.

Short description

We started by learning more about Public-Goods games and the team soon decided it wanted to interpret and apply the simulation results also the question of a fixed basic income guarantee.
During the summer semester 2019 we scheduled weekly virtual meetings between the Kempten team and Prof. Dr. Arend Hintze’s team at Michigan State University (MSU) using video-conferencing equipment and software.
The team adapted and enhanced C++ code from Arend Hintze from Michigan State University. For visualization of the simulation results, Python3 was used.

For code development we made good use of the Kempten International Project Server whereas Michigan State University contributed their High Performance Computing (HPC) ressources.

The project officially ended with the end of the summer semester in July 2019 with very encouraging results. However, at the time of writing this article in Mid-August 2019, the team is still in close contact eagerly awaiting final simulation results from MSU’s HPC cluster. The next team meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 26.

The Kempten team very much enjoyed the scientific work together with Arend Hintze and his MSU team. We recommend this kind of experience to future Kempten students and exchange students spending a semester at Kempten University alike.

All participants are very proud that their joint work resulted in the following publication in a Nature journal.

Hintze, A., Staudacher, J., Gelhar, K., Pothmann, A., Rasch, J., & Wildegger, D. (2020). Inclusive groups can avoid the tragedy of the commons. Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-8.

Furthermore Prof. Hintze and Dalarna University created a blogpost to communicate our paper to the wider public.


Students taking part in the project: Katja Gelhar, Alexander Pothmann, Juliana Rasch, Daniel Wildegger
Supervising professors: Prof. Dr. Arend Hintze (MSU) and Prof. Dr. Jochen Staudacher (HS Kempten)
Faculty: Faculty of Informatics
Project in cooperation with Michigan State University
Date of realization: SS 2019