How Universal is Behavior? A Four Country Comparison of Spite and Cooperation in Voluntary Contribution Mechanisms
This paper studies behavior in experiments with a linear voluntary contributions mechanism for public goods conducted in Japan, the Netherlands, Spain and the U.S.A. The same experimental design was used in the four countries. Our `contribution function' design allows us to obtain a view of subjects' behavior from two complementary points of view. It yields information about situations where, in purely pecuniary terms, it is a dominant strategy to contribute all the endowment and about situations where it is a dominant strategy to contribute nothing. Our results show, first, that differences in behavior across countries are minor. We find that when people play `the same game' they behave similarly. Second, for all four countries our data are inconsistent with the explanation that subjects contribute only out of confusion. A common cooperative motivation is needed to explain the data.
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