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Monetary and Nonmonetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism

  • David Masclet
  • Charles Noussair
  • Steven Tucker
  • Marie-Claire Villeval

In this paper we replicate and extend the experiment of Fehr and Gaechter (2000) that analyzes the effect of an opportunity to punish others on the level contributions in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism. The punishment is costly for both the players distributing and those receiving the punishment. Like Fehr and Gaechter, we find that agents often engage in non-credible costly punishment behavior in order to reduce earnings of others who contribute low amounts to the public good. The availability of punishment increases average contributions sharply. Here, we also introduce a second treatment, identical to the first treatment, except that the "punishment" is non-monetary. The assignment of "non-monetary" punishment points does not reduce the payoff of any agent, but it can be used to register disapproval of others' contribution levels. We find that the existence of the possibility of "non-monetary" punishment alone increases the average level of contributions and earnings, though by less than the monetary punishment. This suggests that the increase in cooperation observed by Fehr and Gaechter is not only due to the possibility of monetary penalties, but also from the opportunity of others to express their disapproval of free riding behavior. It illustrates the importance of peer pressure on individual behavior in teams.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 93 (2003)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 366-380

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:93:y:2003:i:1:p:366-380
Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282803321455359
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