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Responsibility to Punish: Discouraging Free-Riders in Public Goods Games

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  • Zack Devlin-Foltz

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  • Katherine Lim

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Abstract

This study employs a public goods game in which participants can punish each other for free-riding. This paper examines the motivation for punishment behavior when the situation is such that a rational individual will not punish. This paper predicts and finds evidence for the punishment of free-ridership, even when not punishing is the profit-maximizing strategy. Specifically, this paper finds participants will punish more when designated the sole punisher for a group, than when all group members are allowed to punish. This result implies that those individuals who punish for non-rational reasons often free-ride on each others’ punishment. Accordingly, the study suggests individual responsibility is important for ensuring the strength of institutions aimed at punishing selfish behavior. Copyright International Atlantic Economic Society 2008

Suggested Citation

  • Zack Devlin-Foltz & Katherine Lim, 2008. "Responsibility to Punish: Discouraging Free-Riders in Public Goods Games," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 36(4), pages 505-518, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:atlecj:v:36:y:2008:i:4:p:505-518
    DOI: 10.1007/s11293-008-9117-y
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11293-008-9117-y
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Anderson, Christopher M. & Putterman, Louis, 2006. "Do non-strategic sanctions obey the law of demand? The demand for punishment in the voluntary contribution mechanism," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-24, January.
    2. Decker, Torsten & Stiehler, Andreas & Strobel, Martin, 2002. "A comparison of punishment rules in repeated public good games: An experimental study," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 2002,71, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
    3. repec:cup:apsrev:v:86:y:1992:i:02:p:404-417_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. 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.
    5. Mark T. Gillis & Paul L. Hettler, 2007. "Hypothetical and Real Incentives in the Ultimatum Game and Andreoni’s Public Goods Game: An Experimental Study," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 491-510, Fall.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Fangfang Tan & Erte Xiao, 2014. "Third-Party Punishment: Retribution or Deterrence?," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2014-05, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public goods; Punishment; Free-rider; C90;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General

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