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The choice of institutions to solve cooperation problems: a survey of experimental research

Author

Listed:
  • Astrid Dannenberg

    (University of Kassel
    University of Gothenburg)

  • Carlo Gallier

    (ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research)

Abstract

A growing experimental literature studies the endogenous choice of institutions to solve cooperation problems arising in prisoners’ dilemmas, public goods games, and common pool resource games. Participants in these experiments have the opportunity to influence the rules of the game before they play the game. In this paper, we review the experimental literature of the last 20 years on the choice of institutions and describe what has been learned about the quality and the determinants of institutional choice. Cooperative subjects and subjects with optimistic beliefs about others often vote in favor of the institution. Almost all institutions improve cooperation if they are implemented, but they are not always implemented by the players. Institutional costs, remaining free-riding incentives, and a lack of learning opportunities are identified as the most important barriers. Unresolved cooperation problems, like global climate change, are often characterized by these barriers. The experimental results also show that cooperation tends to be higher under endogenously chosen institutions than exogenously imposed institutions. However, a significant share of players fails to implement the institution and they often perform poorly, which is why we cannot conclude that letting people choose is better than enforcing institutions from outside.

Suggested Citation

  • Astrid Dannenberg & Carlo Gallier, 2020. "The choice of institutions to solve cooperation problems: a survey of experimental research," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 23(3), pages 716-749, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:23:y:2020:i:3:d:10.1007_s10683-019-09629-8
    DOI: 10.1007/s10683-019-09629-8
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    Cited by:

    1. Christoph Buehren & Astrid Dannenberg, 2020. "The Demand for Punishment to Promote Cooperation Among Like-Minded People," MAGKS Papers on Economics 202044, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    2. Bühren, Christoph & Dannenberg, Astrid, 2021. "The demand for punishment to promote cooperation among like-minded people," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 138(C).
    3. Gürdal, Mehmet Y. & Gürerk, Özgür & Yahşi, Mustafa, 2021. "Culture and prevalence of sanctioning institutions," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 92(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Literature review; Experiments; Cooperation; Public goods; Endogenous institutional choice; Voting;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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