The optimal size for a minority

Hillel Rapoport, Avi Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We investigate a setting where uniformly altruistic members of a population, bifurcated into a majority and a minority, transact with randomly matched partners either cooperatively, thus saving transaction costs, or through a market mechanism. Externalities are introduced, whereby cooperation by members of one group and the size of that group affect the incentives to cooperate by members of the other group. Under these conditions, we determine the optimal size of the minority from its perspective, and consider the conditions under which such a size might be attained. The model provides insights on social conflicts both between groups and within groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-45
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2003


  • Altruism
  • Ethnic and religious minorities
  • Relative group size
  • Social conflicts


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