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Indirect Reciprocity, Resource Sharing, and Environmental Risk: Evidence from Field Experiments in Siberia

Author

Listed:
  • E. Lance Howe

    (Department of Economics, University of Alaska Anchorage)

  • James J. Murphy

    (Department of Economics, University of Alaska Anchorage
    Institute of State Economy, Nankai University
    Economic Science Institute, Chapman University)

  • Drew Gerkey

    (Department of Anthropology, Oregon State University)

  • Colin T. West

    (Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina)

Abstract

Integrating information from existing research, qualitative ethnographic interviews, and participant observation, we designed a field experiment that introduces idiosyncratic environmental risk and a voluntary sharing decision into a standard public goods game. Conducted with subsistence resource users in rural villages in remote Kamchatka Russia, we find evidence consistent with a model of indirect reciprocity and local social norms of helping the needy. When experiments allow participants to develop reputations, as is the case in most small-scale societies, we find that sharing is increasingly directed toward individuals experiencing hardship, good reputations increase aid, and risk-pooling becomes more effective. Our results highlight the importance of investigating social and ecological factors, beyond strategic risk, that affect the balance between independence and interdependence when developing and testing theories of cooperation.

Suggested Citation

  • E. Lance Howe & James J. Murphy & Drew Gerkey & Colin T. West, 2015. "Indirect Reciprocity, Resource Sharing, and Environmental Risk: Evidence from Field Experiments in Siberia," Working Papers 2015-04, University of Alaska Anchorage, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ala:wpaper:2015-04
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    experimental economics; field experiment; public goods; risk-pooling; resource sharing; team production; environmental economics; social dilemma;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General

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