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DO NON-ENFORCEABLE CONTRACTS MATTER? EVIDENCE FROM AN INTERNATIONAL LAB EXPERIMENT Department

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Author Info

  • Cappelen, Alexander W.

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Norges Handelshøyskole)

  • Hagen, Rune Jansen

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Bergen)

  • Sørensen, Erik Ø.

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Norges Handelshøyskole)

  • Tungodden, Bertil

    ()
    (department of Economics, Norges handelshøyskole)

Abstract

Many verifiable contracts are impossible or difficult to enforce. This applies to contracts among family and friends, contracts regulating market transactions, and sovereign debt contracts. Do such non-enforceable contracts matter? We use a version of the trust game with participants from Norway and Tanzania to study repayment decisions in the presence of non-enforceable loan contracts. Our main finding is that the specific content of the contract has no effect on loan repayment. Rather, the borrowers seem to be motivated by other moral motives, which contributes to explaining why they partly fulfill non-enforceable contracts. We also show that some borrowers violate the axiom of first-order stochastic dominance when rejecting loan offers, partly which may reflect negative reciprocity, but also seems to reflect a fundamental aversion against uncertainty.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Bergen, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 16/12.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 06 Nov 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:bergec:2012_016

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Postal: Institutt for økonomi, Universitetet i Bergen, Postboks 7802, 5020 Bergen, Norway
Phone: (+47)55589200
Fax: (+47)55589210
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Web page: http://www.uib.no/econ/en
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Keywords: Economic experiments; trust game; contract enforcement;

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  1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Ben-Ner, Avner & Putterman, Louis, 2009. "Trust, communication and contracts: An experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 106-121, May.
  3. Jeremy Bulow & Kenneth Rogoff, 1998. "Sovereign Debt: Is to Forgive to Forget," Levine's Working Paper Archive 209, David K. Levine.
  4. James Cox & Daniel Friedman & Steven Gjerstad, 2004. "A Tractable Model of Reciprocity and Fairness," Experimental 0406001, EconWPA.
  5. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 2006. "Contracts as Reference Points," NBER Working Papers 12706, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Samer Al-Samarrai & Paul Bennell, 2007. "Where has all the education gone in sub-Saharan Africa? employment and other outcomes among secondary school and university leavers," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(7), pages 1270-1300.
  7. Gary Charness, 2004. "Attribution and Reciprocity in an Experimental Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 665-688, July.
  8. Fehr, Ernst & Hart, Oliver & Zehnder, Christian, 2008. "Contracts as Reference Points: Experimental Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 3889, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 1997. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
  10. Nava Ashraf & Iris Bohnet & Nikita Piankov, 2006. "Decomposing trust and trustworthiness," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 193-208, September.
  11. Ernst Fehr & Oliver Hart & Christian Zehnder, 2009. "Contracts, Reference Points, and Competition-Behavioral Effects of The Fundamental Transformation," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 561-572, 04-05.
  12. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "Altruism in Anonymous Dictator Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 181-191, October.
  13. Uri Gneezy & John List & George Wu, 2006. "The uncertainty effect: When a risky prospect is valued less than its worst possible outcome," Framed Field Experiments 00152, The Field Experiments Website.
  14. Eaton, Jonathan & Gersovitz, Mark, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309, April.
  15. Ernst Fehr & Oliver D. Hart & Christian Zehnder, 2011. "How Do Informal Agreements and Renegotiation Shape Contractual Reference Points?," NBER Working Papers 17545, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Alexander W. Cappelen & Astri D. Hole & Erik Ø. Sørensen & Bertil Tungodden, 2005. "The Pluralism of Fairness Ideals: An Experimental Approach," CESifo Working Paper Series 1611, CESifo Group Munich.
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