Social evolution leads to persistent corruption

Joung Hun Lee, Yoh Iwasa, Ulf Dieckmann, Karl Sigmund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Cooperation can be sustained by institutions that punish free-riders. Such institutions, however, tend to be subverted by corruption if they are not closely watched. Monitoring can uphold the enforcement of binding agreements ensuring cooperation, but this usually comes at a price. The temptation to skip monitoring and take the institution’s integrity for granted leads to outbreaks of corruption and the breakdown of cooperation. We model the corresponding mechanism by means of evolutionary game theory, using analytical methods and numerical simulations, and find that it leads to sustained or damped oscillations. The results confirm the view that corruption is endemic and transparency a major factor in reducing it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13276-13281
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number27
Publication statusPublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Social evolution leads to persistent corruption'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this