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Non-Governmental Public Norm Enforcement in Large Societies as a Two-Stage Game of Voluntary Public Good Provision

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  • WOLFGANG BUCHHOLZ
  • JOSEF FALKINGER
  • DIRK RÜBBELKE

Abstract

In small groups, norm enforcement is achieved through mutual punishment and reward. In large societies, norms are enforced by specialists such as government officials. However, not every public cause is overseen by states, for instance those organized at the international level. This paper shows how nongovernmental norm enforcement can emerge as a decentralized equilibrium. As a first stage, individuals voluntarily contribute to a nongovernmental agency that produces an incentive system. The second stage is the provision of a public good on the basis of private contributions. The incentive system increases contributions by means of public approval or disapproval of behavior. It is shown that, even in large populations, nongovernmental norm enforcement can be supported in a noncooperative equilibrium of utility-maximizing individuals. This result is in sharp contrast to those obtained in the standard situation of voluntary provision of an intrinsic public good which—without altruism or related motives—is eroded by free-riding. Reliance on altruistic behavior is not required in supplying the second-order public good “norm enforcement” in large societies.

Suggested Citation

  • Wolfgang Buchholz & Josef Falkinger & Dirk Rübbelke, 2014. "Non-Governmental Public Norm Enforcement in Large Societies as a Two-Stage Game of Voluntary Public Good Provision," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 16(6), pages 899-916, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jpbect:v:16:y:2014:i:6:p:899-916
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    Cited by:

    1. Andreas Löschel & Dirk Rübbelke, 2014. "On the Voluntary Provision of International Public Goods," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 81(322), pages 195-204, April.
    2. repec:kap:enreec:v:67:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10640-017-0126-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:kap:enreec:v:67:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10640-017-0162-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:eecrev:v:99:y:2017:i:c:p:31-42 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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