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Social dilemmas and shame-based sanctions: experimental results from rural Zimbabwe

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  • Abigail Barr

Abstract

Using two economic experiments I investigate how a sample of rural communities in Zimbabwe approach social dilemmas. When provided with an opportunity to impose sanctions in the context of a public goods game, fourteen out of eighteen communities achieved higher levels of cooperation. In thirteen communities the imposition of shame-based sanctions in the form of lighthearted criticism was observed. The resulting data revealed that: both non-cooperators and cooperators were criticised; community members cared about what their neighbours thought of them and made adjustments to their behaviour accordingly; the overall pattern rather than individual experiences of criticism affected subsequent behaviour; those who made low contributions and witnessed the criticism of others who made similar contributions, made higher contributions subsequently; while those who experienced such criticism first-hand made significantly smaller adjustments to their behaviour; those who made high contributions and witnessed the criticism of others who made similar contributions, made lower contributions subsequently; and to the extent that an opportunity to criticise passed by unexploited subsequent levels of cooperation were reduced.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2001-11.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2001-11

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  1. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  2. Udry, Christopher, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in a Rural Credit Market: An Empirical Investigation in Northern Nigeria," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 495-526, July.
  3. Sugden, Robert, 1984. "Reciprocity: The Supply of Public Goods through Voluntary Contributions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376), pages 772-87, December.
  4. Martin Ravallion & Shubham Chaudhuri, 1997. "Risk and Insurance in Village India: Comment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(1), pages 171-184, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Gioia de Melo Sella, 2012. "The perils of peer punishment: Evidence from a common pool resource framed field experiment," Working Papers 201238, Latin American and Caribbean Environmental Economics Program, revised 2012.
  2. Simon Gaechter & Benedikt Herrmann, 2010. "The limits of self-governance when cooperators get punished: Experimental evidence from urban and rural Russia," Discussion Papers 2010-05, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  3. Jan Stoop & Charles N. Noussair & Daan van Soest, 2012. "From the Lab to the Field: Cooperation among Fishermen," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(6), pages 1027 - 1056.
  4. Timothy N. Cason & Lata Gangadharan & Pushkar Maitra, 2008. "Moral Hazard and Peer Monitoring in a Laboratory Microfinance Experiment," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1208, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  5. Simon Gaechter & Herrmann Benedikt, 2006. "The limits of self-governance in the presence of spite: Experimental evidence from urban and rural russia," Artefactual Field Experiments 00048, The Field Experiments Website.
  6. Ambec, S., 2005. "Voting over informal risk-sharing rules," Working Papers 200509, Grenoble Applied Economics Laboratory (GAEL).
  7. Greig, Fiona & Bohnet, Iris, 2009. "Exploring gendered behavior in the field with experiments: Why public goods are provided by women in a Nairobi slum," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 1-9, May.
  8. Juan Camilo Cardenas & Jeffrey P. Carpenter, 2005. "Experiments and Economic Development: Lessons from Field Labs in the Developing World," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0505, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  9. Barr, Abigail, 2004. "Forging Effective New Communities: The Evolution of Civil Society in Zimbabwean Resettlement Villages," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1753-1766, October.
  10. Jeffery Carpenter & Juan Camilo Cardenas, 2006. "Behavioural Development Economics: Lessons from field labs in the developing world," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0616, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  11. Jeffery Carpenter & Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2006. "Mutual Monitoring in Teams: Theory and Experimental Evidence on the Importance of Reciprocity," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0608, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  12. Anderies, John M. & Janssen, Marco A. & Bousquet, François & Cardenas, Juan-Camilo & Castillo, Daniel & Lopez, Maria-Claudio & Tobias, Robert & Vollan, Björn & Wutich, Amber, 2011. "The challenge of understanding decisions in experimental studies of common pool resource governance," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(9), pages 1571-1579, July.

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