John E. Roemer

Document Type

Discussion Paper

Publication Date


CFDP Number


CFDP Pages


Journal of Economic Literature (JEL) Code(s)

D50, D60, D62, D70, D91, E19, H21, H23, H41


Humans cooperate a great deal in economic activity, but our two major models of equilibrium – Walrasian competitive in markets and Nash in games – portray us as only non-cooperative. In earlier work, I have proposed a model of cooperative decision making (Kantian optimization); here, I embed Kantian optimization in general equilibrium models and show that ‘Walras-Kant’ equilibria exist and often resolve inefficiencies associated with income taxation, public goods and bads, and non-traditional firm ownership, which typically plague models where agents are Nash optimizers. In four examples, introducing Kantian optimization in one market – often the labor market – suffices to internalize externalities, generating Pareto efficient equilibria in their presence. The scope for efficient decentralization via markets appears to be significantly broadened with cooperative behavior.

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