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Imperfect Public Monitoring with Costly Punishment: An Experimental Study

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  • Attila Ambrus
  • Ben Greiner

Abstract

This paper experimentally investigates the effects of a costly punishment option on cooperation and social welfare in long, finitely repeated public good contribution games. In a perfect monitoring environment, increasing the severity of the potential punishment monotonically increases average net payoffs. In a more realistic imperfect monitoring environment, we find a U-shaped relationship. Access to a standard punishment technology in this setting significantly decreases net payoffs, even in the long run. Access to a severe punishment technology leads to roughly the same payoffs as with no punishment option, as the benefits of increased cooperation offset the social costs of punishing. (JEL C92, H41, K42)

Suggested Citation

  • Attila Ambrus & Ben Greiner, 2012. "Imperfect Public Monitoring with Costly Punishment: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3317-3332, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:7:p:3317-32
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.102.7.3317
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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