IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Providing public goods in the absence of strong institutions


  • Gerber, Anke
  • Wichardt, Philipp C.


This paper proposes a simple two-stage mechanism to establish positive contributions to public goods in the absence of powerful institutions to provide the public good and to sanction free-riders. In this mechanism players commit to the public good by paying a deposit prior to the contribution stage. If there is universal commitment, deposits are immediately refunded whenever a player contributes her specified share to the public good. If there is no universal commitment, all deposits are refunded and the standard game is played. For suitable deposits, prior commitment and full ex post contributions are supported as a subgame-perfect Nash equilibrium for the resulting game. As the mechanism obviates the need for any ex post prosecution of free-riders, it is particularly suited for situations where players do not submit to a common authority as in the case of international agreements.

Suggested Citation

  • Gerber, Anke & Wichardt, Philipp C., 2009. "Providing public goods in the absence of strong institutions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3-4), pages 429-439, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:93:y:2009:i:3-4:p:429-439

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
    2. Moore, John & Repullo, Rafael, 1988. "Subgame Perfect Implementation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1191-1220, September.
    3. Palfrey, Thomas R & Srivastava, Sanjay, 1991. "Nash Implementation Using Undominated Strategies," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(2), pages 479-501, March.
    4. Michael Kosfeld & Akira Okada & Arno Riedl, 2009. "Institution Formation in Public Goods Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1335-1355, September.
    5. Farrell, Joseph & Maskin, Eric, 1989. "Renegotiation in repeated games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 327-360, December.
    6. Matthew O. Jackson, 1992. "Implementation in Undominated Strategies: A Look at Bounded Mechanisms," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(4), pages 757-775.
    7. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    8. Boadway, Robin & Pestieau, Pierre & Wildasin, David, 1989. "Tax-transfer policies and the voluntary provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 157-176, July.
    9. Gersbach, Hans & Winkler, Ralph, 2007. "On the Design of Global Refunding and Climate Change," CEPR Discussion Papers 6379, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Francesco Bosello & Barbara Buchner & Carlo Carraro, 2003. "Equity, Development, and Climate Change Control," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 601-611, 04/05.
    11. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2005. "Identity and the Economics of Organizations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 9-32, Winter.
    12. Josef Falkinger, 2000. "A Simple Mechanism for the Efficient Provision of Public Goods: Experimental Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 247-264, March.
    13. Mark Bagnoli & Barton L. Lipman, 1989. "Provision of Public Goods: Fully Implementing the Core through Private Contributions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(4), pages 583-601.
    14. Gary Charness & Martin Dufwenberg, 2006. "Promises and Partnership," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(6), pages 1579-1601, November.
    15. Scott Barrett, 1994. "The biodiversity supergame," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 4(1), pages 111-122, February.
    16. Froyn, Camilla Bretteville & Hovi, Jon, 2008. "A climate agreement with full participation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 317-319, May.
    17. Groves, Theodore, 1973. "Incentives in Teams," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(4), pages 617-631, July.
    18. Wichardt, Philipp C., 2007. "Why and How Identity Should Influence Utility," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 193, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Gersbach, Hans & Winkler, Ralph, 2012. "Global refunding and climate change," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(11), pages 1775-1795.
    2. Arno Riedl, 2010. "Behavioral and Experimental Economics Do Inform Public Policy," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 66(1), pages 65-95, March.
    3. Astrid Dannenberg & Andreas Lange & Bodo Sturm, 2010. "On the Formation of Coalitions to Provide Public Goods - Experimental Evidence from the Lab," NBER Working Papers 15967, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Cason, Timothy N. & Zubrickas, Robertas, 2017. "Enhancing fundraising with refund bonuses," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 218-233.
    5. Wood, Peter John, 2010. "Climate Change and Game Theory: a Mathematical Survey," Working Papers 249379, Australian National University, Centre for Climate Economics & Policy.
    6. Boadway, Robin & Song, Zhen & Tremblay, Jean-François, 2013. "Non-cooperative pollution control in an inter-jurisdictional setting," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(5), pages 783-796.
    7. Todd Cherry & David McEvoy, 2013. "Enforcing Compliance with Environmental Agreements in the Absence of Strong Institutions: An Experimental Analysis," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 54(1), pages 63-77, January.
    8. Gerber, Anke & Neitzel, Jakob & Wichardt, Philipp C., 2013. "Minimum participation rules for the provision of public goods," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 209-222.
    9. Julian Rauchdobler & Rupert Sausgruber & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2010. "Voting on Thresholds for Public Goods: Experimental Evidence," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 66(1), pages 34-64, March.
    10. Gersbach, Hans & Hummel, Noemi, 2016. "A development-compatible refunding scheme for a climate treaty," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 139-168.
    11. Boadway, Robin & Song, Zhen & Tremblay, Jean-François, 2011. "The efficiency of voluntary pollution abatement when countries can commit," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 352-368, June.
    12. Rahel Aichele & Gabriel Felbermayr, 2013. "The Effect of the Kyoto Protocol on Carbon Emissions," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(4), pages 731-757, September.
    13. Federica Alberti & Edward J. Cartwright, 2016. "Full agreement and the provision of threshold public goods," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 166(1), pages 205-233, January.
    14. Tatsuya Sasaki & Isamu Okada & Satoshi Uchida & Xiaojie Chen, 2015. "Commitment to Cooperation and Peer Punishment: Its Evolution," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(4), pages 1-14, November.
    15. Olivier Bos & Béatrice Roussillon & Paul Schweinzer, 2016. "Agreeing on Efficient Emissions Reduction," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 118(4), pages 785-815, October.
    16. Hans Gersbach & Noemi Hummel & Ralph Winkler, 2011. "Sustainable Climate Treaties," Diskussionsschriften dp1105, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
    17. Rahel Aichele, 2013. "Trade, Climate Policy and Carbon Leakage - Theory and Empirical Evidence," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 49, November.
    18. Anke Gerber & Philipp Wichardt, 2013. "On the Private Provision of Intertemporal Public Goods with Stock Effects," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 55(2), pages 245-255, June.
    19. Jon Hovi & Hugh Ward & Frank Grundig, 2015. "Hope or Despair? Formal Models of Climate Cooperation," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 62(4), pages 665-688, December.
    20. Cuicui Chen & Richard J. Zeckhauser, 2016. "Collective Action in an Asymmetric World," NBER Working Papers 22240, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Adrian Amelung, 2016. "Das "Paris-Agreement": Durchbruch der Top-Down-Klimaschutzverhandlungen im Kreise der Vereinten Nationen," Otto-Wolff-Institut Discussion Paper Series 03/2016, Otto-Wolff-Institut für Wirtschaftsordnung, Köln, Deutschland.
    22. David McEvoy, 2013. "Enforcing compliance with international environmental agreements using a deposit-refund system," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 13(4), pages 481-496, November.

    More about this item


    Public goods Cooperation Institutions Climate-change treaties;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:93:y:2009:i:3-4:p:429-439. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.