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Voluntary Association in Public Goods Experiments: Reciprocity, Mimicry and Efficiency

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  • Talbot Page
  • Louis Putterman
  • Bulent Unel

Abstract

We find that a process of voluntary association where individuals express a preference about whom they want to be associated with can create strong incentives to increase efficiency and contributions in provision of a public good. This process of endogenous group formation perfectly sorted contributions by the order of group formation. Comparison of middle and last period behaviour suggests that a majority of the subject population are conditional cooperators, with a minority of monetary payoff maximisers. The experiment illustrates that under favourable conditions, where the opportunities of entry and exit are symmetrically balanced, a process of voluntary association can mitigate the free-rider problem. Copyright 2005 Royal Economic Society.

Suggested Citation

  • Talbot Page & Louis Putterman & Bulent Unel, 2005. "Voluntary Association in Public Goods Experiments: Reciprocity, Mimicry and Efficiency," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 1032-1053, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:115:y:2005:i:506:p:1032-1053
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    References listed on IDEAS

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