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Institution Formation in Public Goods Games

  • Michael Kosfeld
  • Akira Okada
  • Arno Riedl

Centralized sanctioning institutions are of utmost importance for overcoming free-riding tendencies and enforcing outcomes that maximize group welfare in social dilemma situations. However, little is known about how such institutions come into existence. In this paper we investigate, both theoretically and experimentally, the endogenous formation of institutions in a public goods game. Our theoretical analysis shows that players may form sanctioning institutions in equilibrium, including those where institutions govern only a subset of players. The experiment confirms that institutions are formed frequently as well as that institution formation has a positive impact on cooperation rates and group welfare. However, the data clearly reveal that players are unwilling to implement institutions in which some players have the opportunity to free ride. In sum, our results show that individuals are willing and able to create sanctioning institutions, but that the institution formation process is guided by behavioral principles not taken into account by standard theory.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 1794.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1794
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  1. Kenneth S. Chan & Rob Godby & Stuart Mestelman & R. Andrew Muller, 1998. "Crowding Out Voluntary Contributions to Public Goods," Department of Economics Working Papers 1998-03, McMaster University.
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  4. Andreoni, J., 1990. "An Experimental Test Of The Public Goods Crowding-Out Hypothesis," Working papers 9006, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
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  10. Josef Falkinger, 2004. "Noncooperative Support of Public Norm Enforcement in Large Societies," CESifo Working Paper Series 1368, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
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  18. 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.
  19. Carpenter, Jeffrey P., 2007. "The demand for punishment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 522-542, April.
  20. Matthias Sutter & Hannelore Weck-Hannemann, 2004. "An Experimental Test of the Public Goods Crowing Out Hypothesis when Taxation Is Endogenous," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 60(1), pages 94-, April.
  21. Huck, Steffen & Weizsacker, Georg, 2002. "Do players correctly estimate what others do? : Evidence of conservatism in beliefs," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 71-85, January.
  22. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter & Ernst Fehr, . "Are People Conditionally Cooperative? Evidence from a Public Goods Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 016, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  23. Haigner, Stefan & Kocher, Martin & Sutter, Matthias, 2006. "Choosing the Stick or the Carrot? Endogenous Institutional Choice in Social Dilemma Situations," CEPR Discussion Papers 5497, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  24. Walker, James M, et al, 2000. "Collective Choice in the Commons: Experimental Results on Proposed Allocation Rules and Votes," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(460), pages 212-34, January.
  25. Josef Falkinger, 2000. "A Simple Mechanism for the Efficient Provision of Public Goods: Experimental Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 247-264, March.
  26. Yaw Nyarko & Andrew Schotter, 2002. "An Experimental Study of Belief Learning Using Elicited Beliefs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 971-1005, May.
  27. Theodore Groves & John Ledyard, 1976. "Optimal Allocation of Public Goods: A Solution to the 'Free Rider Problem'," Discussion Papers 144, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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