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Punishment, Inequality and Emotions

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  • David Masclet

    (CREM - Centre de Recherche en Economie et Management - CNRS : UMR6211 - Université de Rennes I - Université de Caen)

  • Marie-Claire Villeval

    (GATE - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS : UMR5824 - Université Lumière - Lyon II - Ecole Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines)

Abstract

Cooperation among people who are not related to each other is sustained by the availability of punishment devices which help enforce social norms (Fehr and Gächter, 2002). However, the rationale for costly punishment remains unclear. This paper reports the results of an experiment investigating inequality aversion and negative emotions as possible determinants of punishment. We compare two treatments of a public good game, one in which costly punishment reduces the immediate payoff inequality between the punisher and the target, and one in which it does not affect inequality. We show that while inequality-aversion prevents some subjects from punishing in the equal cost treatment, negative emotions are the primary motive for punishment. Results also indicate that the intensity of punishment increases with the level of inequality, and reduces earnings inequality over time.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number halshs-00175045.

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Date of creation: May 2006
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Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00175045

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Keywords: inequality aversion; negative emotions; free-riding; cooperation; experiment;

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  1. Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics 2000-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  2. repec:dgr:uvatin:2005075 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Masclet, D. & Noussair, C. & Tucker, S. & Villeval, M.C., 2001. "Monetary and Non-monetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1141, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  4. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  5. Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, . "Driving Forces of Informal Sanctions," IEW - Working Papers 059, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  6. Georg Kirchsteiger & Martin Dufwenberg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5899, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  7. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  8. Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2004. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 857-869, September.
  9. Oliver Bochet & Talbot Page & Louis Putterman, 2002. "Communication and Punishment in Voluntary Contribution Experiments," Working Papers 2002-29, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  10. Anderson, Christopher M. & Putterman, Louis, 2006. "Do non-strategic sanctions obey the law of demand? The demand for punishment in the voluntary contribution mechanism," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-24, January.
  11. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers, University of California at Berkeley 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  12. Astrid Hopfensitz & Ernesto Reuben, 2009. "The Importance of Emotions for the Effectiveness of Social Punishment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(540), pages 1534-1559, October.
  13. Ernst Fehr & Bettina Rockenbach, 2003. "Detrimental effects of sanctions on human altruism," Microeconomics, EconWPA 0305007, EconWPA.
  14. Jeffrey Carpenter, 2002. "Punishing Free Riders: how group size affects mutual monitoring and the provision of public goods," Middlebury College Working Paper Series, Middlebury College, Department of Economics 0206, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  15. Jeffrey Carpenter & Peter Hans Matthews, 2004. "Social Reciprocity," Middlebury College Working Paper Series, Middlebury College, Department of Economics 0229r, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  16. Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2005. "Driving Forces Behind Informal Sanctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 73(6), pages 2017-2030, November.
  17. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2003. "Altruistic Punishment in Humans," Microeconomics, EconWPA 0305006, EconWPA.
  18. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," IEW - Working Papers 010, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  19. Houser, Daniel & Xiao, Erte & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon, 2008. "When punishment fails: Research on sanctions, intentions and non-cooperation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 509-532, March.
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