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Punishment, inequality, and welfare : a public good experiment

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Author Info

  • David Masclet

    (CREM - Centre de Recherche en Economie et Management - CNRS : UMR6211 - Université de Rennes I - Université de Caen, CIRANO - Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en analyse des organisations - Université du Québec à Montréal)

  • Marie-Claire Villeval

    (GATE - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS : UMR5824 - Université Lumière - Lyon II - Ecole Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines, IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor - Institute for the Study of Labor IZA)

Abstract

This paper reports the results of an experiment that investigates the relationships between inequality and punishment. In particular, we analyze how inter-personal comparisons affect altruistic punishment behavior. In addition, we examine how punishment affects inequality over time. We compare two treatments of a two-stage 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 the current level of inequality. Our results indicate that subjects punish even when they cannot alter the current distribution of payoffs. We find however that in both treatments, the intensity of punishment increases in the level of inequality. Finally, despite its cost, we show that punishment improves welfare in association with a decrease in the level of inequality over time.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number halshs-00196567.

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Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published, Social Choice and Welfare, 2008, 31, 3, 475-502
Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00196567

Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: http://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00196567/en/
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Related research

Keywords: public good experiment ; punishment ; inequality aversion ; free-riding ; welfare;

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References

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  1. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4qz9k8vg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Martijn Egas & Arno Riedl, 2005. "The Economics of Altruistic Punishment and the Demise of Cooperation," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-065/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  3. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
  4. Bochet, Olivier & Page, Talbot & Putterman, Louis, 2006. "Communication and punishment in voluntary contribution experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 11-26, May.
  5. Robert MacCulloch & Silvia Pezzini, 2010. "The Roles of Freedom, Growth, and Religion in the Taste for Revolution," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(2), pages 329-358, 05.
  6. Astrid Hopfensitz & Ernesto Reuben, 2005. "The Importance of Emotions for the Effectiveness of Social Punishment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-075/1, Tinbergen Institute, revised 28 Mar 2006.
  7. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs, 2005. "Driving Forces Behind Informal Sanctions," IZA Discussion Papers 1635, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada, 2005. "Income and well-being: an empirical analysis of the comparison income effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 997-1019, June.
  10. Jeffrey Carpenter & Peter Matthews, 2002. "Social Reciprocity," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0229, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  11. Jeffrey Carpenter & Peter Matthews & Okomboli Ong’ong’a, 2004. "Why Punish? Social reciprocity and the enforcement of prosocial norms," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 407-429, October.
  12. David Neumark & Andrew Postlewaite, 1995. "Relative Income Concerns and the Rise in Married Women's Employment," NBER Working Papers 5044, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. David Masclet & Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2003. "Monetary and non Monetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," Post-Print halshs-00175251, HAL.
  14. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 1998. "The Evolution of Strong Reciprocity," Research in Economics 98-08-073e, Santa Fe Institute.
  15. Jeffrey Carpenter, 2002. "Punishing Free Riders: how group size affects mutual monitoring and the provision of public goods," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0206, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  16. 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, vol. 54(1), pages 1-24, January.
  17. Andrew E. Clark and Andrew J. Oswald, . "Satisfaction and Comparison Income," Economics Discussion Papers 419, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  18. Robert MacCulloch & Silvia Pezzini, 2007. "Money, religion and revolution," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 1-16, January.
  19. Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
  20. Jeffrey Carpenter, 2002. "The Demand for Punishment," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0243, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  21. Houser, Daniel & Xiao, Erte & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon, 2008. "When punishment fails: Research on sanctions, intentions and non-cooperation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 509-532, March.
  22. Brown, Gordon D. A. & Gardner, Jonathan & Oswald, Andrew J. & Qian, Jing, 2005. "Does Wage Rank Affect Employees' Wellbeing?," IZA Discussion Papers 1505, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  23. Martijn Egas & Arno Riedl, 2005. "The Economics of Altruistic Punishment and the Demise of Cooperation," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-065/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  24. Ernst Fehr & Bettina Rockenbach, 2003. "Detrimental effects of sanctions on human altruism," Microeconomics 0305007, EconWPA.
  25. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  26. Astrid Hopfensitz & Ernesto Reuben, 2005. "The Importance of Emotions for the Effectiveness of Social Punishment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-075/1, Tinbergen Institute, revised 28 Mar 2006.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Haoran He & Marie Claire Villeval, 2014. "Are teams less inequality averse than individuals ?," Working Papers 1417, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  2. Charness, Gary & Masclet, David & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2013. "The Dark Side of Competition for Status," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt3858888w, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  3. Christoph Engel, 2013. "Deterrence by Imperfect Sanctions – A Public Good Experiment," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013_09, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  4. Daniele Nosenzo & Martin Sefton, 2012. "Promoting Cooperation: the Distribution of Reward and Punishment Power," Discussion Papers 2012-08, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  5. Jörg Oechssler, 2013. "Finitely repeated games with social preferences," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 222-231, June.
  6. Falk, Armin & Meier, Stephan & Zehnder, Christian, 2010. "Did We Overestimate the Role of Social Preferences? The Case of Self-Selected Student Samples," CEPR Discussion Papers 8019, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Franziska Barmettler & Ernst Fehr & Christian Zehnder, 2011. "Big experimenter is watching you! Anonymity and prosocial behavior in the laboratory," ECON - Working Papers 027, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  8. Reuben, Ernesto & Riedl, Arno, 2009. "Enforcement of Contribution Norms in Public Good Games with Heterogeneous Populations," IZA Discussion Papers 4303, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Clark, Andrew E. & D'Ambrosio, Conchita, 2014. "Attitudes to Income Inequality: Experimental and Survey Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 8136, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Simon Gaechter & Benedikt Herrmann, 2008. "Reciprocity, culture, and human cooperation: Previous insights and a new cross-cultural experiment," Discussion Papers 2008-14, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.

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