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Uncertainty and Resistance to Reform in Laboratory Participation Games

  • Vai-Lam Mui
  • Timothy N. Cason

This paper presents a participation game experiment to study the impact of uncertainty and costly political participation on the incidence of reform. Fernandez and Rodrik (1991) show that uncertainty about who will ultimately gain or lose as a result of a reform can prevent its adoption. We introduce intra-group conflict into this framework by incorporating costly political participation, which creates a natural incentive for free-riding on fellow group members’ efforts to influence policy outcomes. An agent, however, may still be willing to participate if her participation is likely to affect the policy outcome given the probabilities of participation by others. Our experimental findings show that uncertainty reduces the incidence of reform even with costly political participation, and that an increase in the cost of participation reduces the participation of all agents, regardless of whether they belong to the majority and minority. This second result cannot be reconciled with the standard mixed strategy Nash equilibrium, but is consistent with the quantal response equilibrium.

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Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society 2004 Australasian Meetings with number 1.

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Date of creation: 11 Aug 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecm:ausm04:1
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  1. Schram, Arthur & Sonnemans, Joep, 1996. "Voter Turnout as a Participation Game: An Experimental Investigation," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 385-406.
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  5. Andreoni, James & Croson, Rachel, 2008. "Partners versus Strangers: Random Rematching in Public Goods Experiments," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  6. Vai-Lam Mui & Timothy N. Cason, 2004. "Uncertainty and Resistance to Reform in Laboratory Participation Games," Econometric Society 2004 Australasian Meetings 1, Econometric Society.
  7. Anders Åslund & Peter Boone & Simon Johnson, 1996. "How to Stabilize: Lessons from Post -communist Countries," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(1), pages 217-314.
  8. Rachel Croson & Melanie Marks, 2000. "Step Returns in Threshold Public Goods: A Meta- and Experimental Analysis," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 239-259, March.
  9. Cheng Leonard K. & Zhu Min, 1995. "Mixed-Strategy Nash Equilibrium Based upon Expected Utility and Quadratic Utility," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 139-150, May.
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  12. Antonio Ciccone, 2004. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 785-795, June.
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  14. Sanjay Jain & Sharun W. Mukand, 2003. "Redistributive Promises and the Adoption of Economic Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 256-264, March.
  15. R. McKelvey & T. Palfrey, 2010. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Normal Form Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 510, David K. Levine.
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  20. Dani Rodrik, 1996. "Understanding Economic Policy Reform," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 9-41, March.
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  22. Fernandez, Raquel & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1146-55, December.
  23. Guillaume R. Frechette & John H. Kagel & Steven Lehrer, 2000. "Bargaining in Legislatures: An Experimental Investigation of Open versus Closed Amendment Rules," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1515, Econometric Society.
  24. Sachs Jeffrey, 1995. "Reforms in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union in Light of the East Asian Experience," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 454-485, December.
  25. Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt, 2000. "An Explanation of Anomalous Behavior in Binary-Choice Games: Entry, Voting, Public Goods, and the Volunteers' Dilemma," Virginia Economics Online Papers 328, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  26. C. Monica Capra, 1999. "Anomalous Behavior in a Traveler's Dilemma?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 678-690, June.
  27. Timothy N. Cason & Vai-Lam Mui, 2003. "Testing Political Economy Models of Reform in the Laboratory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 208-212, May.
  28. Campos, Jose Edgardo & Esfahani, Hadi Salehi, 2000. "Credible Commitment and Success with Public Enterprise Reform," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 221-243, February.
  29. Schram, Arthur & Sonnemans, Joep, 1996. "Why people vote: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 417-442, August.
  30. Gilles Saint-Paul, 2000. "The "New Political Economy": Recent Books by Allen Drazen and by Torsten Persson and Guido Tabellini," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(4), pages 915-925, December.
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