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Threat and Punishment in Public Good Experiments

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Author Info

  • David Masclat

    ()
    (CNRS, CREM, 7 Place Hoche, 35065 Rennes, France,CIRANO, Montréal)

  • Charles Noussair

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Tilburg University, PO Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands)

  • Marie-Claire Villeval

    ()
    (Université de Lyon, Lyon, F-69003, France; CNRS, GATE Lyon St Etienne, UMR 5824, 93, chemin des Mouilles, Ecully, F-69130, France; ENS-LSH, Lyon, France)

Abstract

Experimental studies of social dilemmas have shown that while the existence of a sanctioning institution improves cooperation within groups, it also has a detrimental impact on group earnings in the short-run. Could the introduction of pre-play threats to punish have enough of a beneficial impact on cooperation, while not incurring the cost associated with actual punishment, so that they increase overall welfare ? We report an experiment in which players can issue non-binding threats to punish others based on their contribution levels to a public good. After observing others’ actual contributions, they choose their actual punishment level. We find that threats increase the level of contributions significantly. Efficiency is improved, but only in the long run. However, the possibility of sanctioning differences between threatened and actual punishment leads to lower threats, cooperation and welfare, restoring them to levels equal to or below the levels attained in the absence of threats.

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File URL: ftp://ftp.gate.cnrs.fr/RePEc/2010/1019.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure in its series Working Papers with number 1019.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:gat:wpaper:1019

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Web page: http://www.gate.cnrs.fr/
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Keywords: Threats; cheap talk; sanctions; public good; experiment;

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References

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  1. Carpenter, Jeffrey P., 2007. "The demand for punishment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 522-542, April.
  2. Denant-Boemont, L. & Masclet, D. & Noussair, C.N., 2007. "Punishment, counterpunishment, and sanction enforcement in a social dilemma experiment," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-284310, Tilburg University.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Andreoni, James & Gee, Laura K., 2012. "Gun for hire: Delegated enforcement and peer punishment in public goods provision," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 1036-1046.
  2. Page, Talbot & Putterman, Louis & Garcia, Bruno, 2013. "Voluntary contributions with redistribution: The effect of costly sanctions when one person's punishment is another's reward," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 34-48.
  3. Andreas Nicklisch & Irenaeus Wolff, 2009. "Cooperation norms in multiple-stage punishment," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2009_40, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  4. Bolle, Friedel & Breitmoser, Yves & Schlächter, Steffen, 2011. "Extortion in the laboratory," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 207-218, May.
  5. Jean-Philippe Atzenhoffer, 2012. "Could free-riders promote cooperation in the commons?," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 14(1), pages 85-101, January.

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