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Uncertainty and resistance to reform in laboratory participation games

  • Cason, Timothy N.
  • Mui, Vai-Lam

This paper presents a participation game experiment to study the impact of uncertainty and costly political participation on the incidence of reform. Fernandez and Rodrik (1991) show that uncertainty about who will ultimately gain or lose as a result of a reform can prevent its adoption. We introduce intra-group conflict into this framework by incorporating costly political participation, which creates a natural incentive for free-riding on fellow group members’ efforts to influence policy outcomes. An agent, however, may still be willing to participate if her participation is likely to affect the policy outcome given the probabilities of participation by others. Our experimental findings show that uncertainty reduces the incidence of reform even with costly political participation, and that an increase in the cost of participation reduces the participation of all agents, regardless of whether they belong to the majority and minority. This second result cannot be reconciled with the standard mixed strategy Nash equilibrium, but is consistent with the quantal response equilibrium.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 21 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 708-737

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Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:21:y:2005:i:3:p:708-737
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  1. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1997. "An Economic Theory of GATT," NBER Working Papers 6049, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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