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The Endogenous Formation of Coalitions to Provide Public Goods: Theory and Experimental Evidence


  • David M. McEvoy

    () (Department of Economics, Appalachian State University)

  • Todd L. Cherry

    () (Department of Economics, Appalachian State University)

  • John K. Stranlund

    () (Department of Resource Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst)


This paper examines the endogenous formation of coalitions that provide public goods in which players implement a minimum participation requirement before deciding whether to join. We demonstrate theoretically that payoff-maximizing players will vote to implement efficient participation requirements and these coalitions will form. However, we also demonstrate that if some players are averse to inequality they can cause inefficient outcomes. Inequality-averse players can limit free riding by implementing larger than efficient coalitions or by blocking efficient coalitions from forming. We test the theory with experimental methods and observe individual behavior and coalition formation consistent with a model of inequality-averse players.

Suggested Citation

  • David M. McEvoy & Todd L. Cherry & John K. Stranlund, 2011. "The Endogenous Formation of Coalitions to Provide Public Goods: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 2011-2, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Resource Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:dre:wpaper:2011-2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Stephan Kroll & Todd L. Cherry & Jason F. Shogren, 2007. "Voting, Punishment, And Public Goods," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(3), pages 557-570, July.
    3. 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.
    4. Michael Kosfeld & Akira Okada & Arno Riedl, 2009. "Institution Formation in Public Goods Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1335-1355, September.
    5. Matthias Sutter & Stefan Haigner & Martin G. Kocher, 2010. "Choosing the Carrot or the Stick? Endogenous Institutional Choice in Social Dilemma Situations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1540-1566.
    6. Carlo Carraro & Carmen Marchiori & Sonia Oreffice, 2009. "Endogenous Minimum Participation in International Environmental Treaties," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 42(3), pages 411-425, March.
    7. 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.
    8. Cox, James C. & Friedman, Daniel & Gjerstad, Steven, 2007. "A tractable model of reciprocity and fairness," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 17-45, April.
    9. Astrid Dannenberg & Andreas Lange & Bodo Sturm, 2010. "On the Formation of Coalitions to Provide Public Goods - Experimental Evidence from the Lab," NBER Working Papers 15967, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andreas Löschel & Dirk Rübbelke, 2014. "On the Voluntary Provision of International Public Goods," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 81(322), pages 195-204, April.
    2. Luigi Butera & John A. List, 2017. "An Economic Approach to Alleviate the Crises of Confidence in Science: With an Application to the Public Goods Game," NBER Working Papers 23335, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Kube, Sebastian & Schaube, Sebastian & Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah & Khachatryan, Elina, 2015. "Institution formation and cooperation with heterogeneous agents," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 248-268.
    4. Ramalingam, Abhijit & Godoy, Sara & Morales, Antonio J. & Walker, James M., 2016. "An individualistic approach to institution formation in public good games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 18-36.

    More about this item


    public goods; coalition formation; inequality aversion; participation requirement; experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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