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Inequality Aversion and Coalition Formation

Listed author(s):
  • David M. McEvoy
  • John K. Stranlund

We explore the formation of coalitions to provide a public good when some players are averse to payoff inequality between coalition members and non-members. A model is presented to demonstrate how inequality-averse preferences could cause players to deliberately block profitable but inequitable coalitions from forming, and how the likelihood of such blocks is affected by the magnitude of payoff inequality. We then empirically examine coalition formation rates using laboratory experiments. Our results show that profitable coalitions are less likely to form the bigger the gap in payoffs between members and freeriding non-members. The experimental design allows us to tease out potentially confounding effects between the level of inequality and the minimum number of players required to make the coalition profitable. As predicted, controlling for the size of the participation threshold, we find that coalition formation rates fall as the payoff gap between members and non-members is increased. Key Words: self-enforcing agreements; inequality aversion; coalitions; experiments; public goods

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File URL: http://econ.appstate.edu/RePEc/pdf/wp1609.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Appalachian State University in its series Working Papers with number 16-09.

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Date of creation: 2016
Handle: RePEc:apl:wpaper:16-09
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Web page: http://economics.appstate.edu/

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  1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
  2. Thomas Eichner & Rüdiger Pethig, 2013. "Trade Tariffs and Self-Enforcing Environmental Agreements," CESifo Working Paper Series 4464, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Lange, Andreas & Vogt, Carsten, 2003. "Cooperation in international environmental negotiations due to a preference for equity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 2049-2067, September.
  4. Eichner, Thomas & Pethig, Rüdiger, 2013. "Self-enforcing environmental agreements and international trade," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 37-50.
  5. David M. McEvoy & James J. Murphy & John M. Spraggon & John K. Stranlund, 2011. "The problem of maintaining compliance within stable coalitions: experimental evidence," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(3), pages 475-498, July.
  6. Charles D. Kolstad, 2014. "International Environmental Agreements among Heterogeneous Countries with Social Preferences," NBER Working Papers 20204, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Andreas Lange, 2006. "The Impact of Equity-preferences on the Stability of International Environmental Agreements," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 34(2), pages 247-267, June.
  8. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  9. Eichner, Thomas & Pethig, Rüdiger, 2014. "Self-enforcing environmental agreements and capital mobility," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 120-132.
  10. Bagnoli, Mark & McKee, Michael, 1991. "Voluntary Contribution Games: Efficient Private Provision of Public Goods," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(2), pages 351-366, April.
  11. Astrid Dannenberg & Andreas Lange & Bodo Sturm, 2014. "Participation and Commitment in Voluntary Coalitions to Provide Public Goods," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 81(322), pages 257-275, April.
  12. David McEvoy, 2010. "Not it: opting out of voluntary coalitions that provide a public good," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 142(1), pages 9-23, January.
  13. David McEvoy & Todd Cherry & John Stranlund, 2015. "Endogenous Minimum Participation in International Environmental Agreements: An Experimental Analysis," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 62(4), pages 729-744, December.
  14. Kolstad, Charles D., 2007. "Systematic uncertainty in self-enforcing international environmental agreements," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 68-79, January.
  15. David McEvoy & John Stranlund, 2009. "Self-enforcing International Environmental Agreements with Costly Monitoring for Compliance," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 42(4), pages 491-508, April.
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