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Punishment, inequality, and welfare: a public good experiment

Listed author(s):
  • David Masclet

    ()

  • Marie-Claire Villeval

This paper reports the results of an experiment that investigates the relationships between inequality and punishment. In particular, we analyze how inter-personal comparisons affect altruistic punishment behavior. In addition, we examine how punishment affects inequality over time. We compare two treatments of a two-stage public good game, one in which costly punishment reduces the immediate payoff inequality between the punisher and the target, and one in which it does not affect the current level of inequality. Our results indicate that subjects punish even when they cannot alter the current distribution of payoffs. We find however that in both treatments, the intensity of punishment increases in the level of inequality. Finally, despite its cost, we show that punishment improves welfare in association with a decrease in the level of inequality over time.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00355-007-0291-7
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Article provided by Springer & The Society for Social Choice and Welfare in its journal Social Choice and Welfare.

Volume (Year): 31 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3 (October)
Pages: 475-502

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Handle: RePEc:spr:sochwe:v:31:y:2008:i:3:p:475-502
DOI: 10.1007/s00355-007-0291-7
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springer.com

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  1. Carpenter, Jeffrey P., 2007. "Punishing free-riders: How group size affects mutual monitoring and the provision of public goods," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 31-51, July.
  2. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
  3. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  4. Daniel Houser & Erte Xiao & Kevin McCabe & Vernon Smith, 2005. "When Punishment Fails: Research on Sanctions, Intentions and Non- Cooperation," Experimental 0502001, EconWPA, revised 18 Feb 2005.
  5. Brown, Gordon D. A. & Gardner, Jonathan & Oswald, Andrew J. & Qian, Jing, 2005. "Does Wage Rank Affect Employees' Wellbeing?," IZA Discussion Papers 1505, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Jeffrey Carpenter & Peter Matthews, 2002. "Social Reciprocity," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0229, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  7. Astrid Hopfensitz & Ernesto Reuben, 2005. "The Importance of Emotions for the Effectiveness of Social Punishment," Discussion Papers 06-09, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics, revised Mar 2006.
  8. Jeffrey Carpenter & Peter Matthews & Okomboli Ong’ong’a, 2004. "Why Punish? Social reciprocity and the enforcement of prosocial norms," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 407-429, October.
  9. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, "undated". "A Theory of Reciprocity," IEW - Working Papers 006, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  10. Robert MacCulloch & Silvia Pezzini, 2002. "The Role of Freedom, Growth and Religion in the Taste for Revolution," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers 36, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  11. Neumark, David & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1998. "Relative income concerns and the rise in married women's employment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 157-183, October.
  12. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4qz9k8vg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  13. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 1999. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 183, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2000. "The Evolution of Strong Reciprocity," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-05, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  15. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs, 2005. "Driving Forces Behind Informal Sanctions," IZA Discussion Papers 1635, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Louis Putterman & Christopher M. Anderson, 2003. "Do Non-strategic Sanctions Obey the Law of Demand? The Demand for Punishment in the Voluntary Contribution Mechanism," Working Papers 2003-15, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  17. David Masclet & Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker & Marie Claire Villeval, 2002. "Monetary and non Monetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contribution Mechanism," Post-Print halshs-00176878, HAL.
  18. Jeffrey Carpenter, 2002. "The Demand for Punishment," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0243, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  19. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  20. Egas, Martijn & Riedl, Arno, 2005. "The Economics of Altruistic Punishment and the Demise of Cooperation," IZA Discussion Papers 1646, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  21. Robert MacCulloch & Silvia Pezzini, 2007. "Money, religion and revolution," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 1-16, January.
  22. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada, 2005. "Income and well-being: an empirical analysis of the comparison income effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 997-1019, June.
  23. Bochet, Olivier & Page, Talbot & Putterman, Louis, 2006. "Communication and punishment in voluntary contribution experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 11-26, May.
  24. Ernst Fehr & Bettina Rockenbach, 2003. "Detrimental effects of sanctions on human altruism," Microeconomics 0305007, EconWPA.
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