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On Punishment and Well-being

The existence of punishment opportunities has been shown to cause efficiency in public goods experiments to increase considerably. In this paper we ask whether punishment also has a downside in terms of process dissatisfaction. We conduct an experiment to study the conjecture that an environment with stronger punishment possibilities leads to higher material but lower subjective well-being. The more general motivation for our study stems from the notion that people??s subjective well-being may be affected by the institutional environment they find themselves in. Our findings show that harsher punishment possibilities lead to signficantly higher well-being, controlling for earnings and other relevant variables. People derive independent satisfaction from interacting under the protection of strong punishment possibilities. These results complement the evidence on the neural basis of altruistic punishment reported in de Quervain et al. (2004).

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Paper provided by Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC) in its series UFAE and IAE Working Papers with number 705.07.

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Length: 32
Date of creation: 15 Jun 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:aub:autbar:705.07
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  1. Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2005. "Driving Forces Behind Informal Sanctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(6), pages 2017-2030, November.
  2. Brit Grosskopf, 2000. "Relative Payoffs and Happiness: An Experimental Study," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1263, Econometric Society.
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  4. Pedro Bó, 2007. "Social norms, cooperation and inequality," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 30(1), pages 89-105, January.
  5. David Masclet & Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2003. "Monetary and Nonmonetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 366-380, March.
  6. Bruno S Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2000. "What are the sources of happiness?," Economics working papers 2000-27, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  7. Martin Sefton & Robert Shupp & James M. Walker, 2006. "The Effect of Rewards and Sanctions in Provision of Public Goods," Caepr Working Papers 2006-005, Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington, revised Aug 2006.
  8. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  9. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  10. DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Preferences over inflation and unemployment: Evidence from surveys of happiness," ZEI Working Papers B 03-2001, University of Bonn, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies.
  11. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
  12. Daniel Kahneman & Peter P. Wakker & Rakesh Sarin, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-406.
  13. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  14. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  15. Edward C. Norton & Hua Wang & Chunrong Ai, 2004. "Computing interaction effects and standard errors in logit and probit models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 4(2), pages 154-167, June.
  16. Ernst Fehr & Bettina Rockenbach, 2003. "Detrimental effects of sanctions on human altruism," Microeconomics 0305007, EconWPA.
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