IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

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

in new window

Date of creation: 11 Aug 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecm:ausm04:1
Contact details of provider: Phone: 1 212 998 3820
Fax: 1 212 995 4487
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Andreoni, James & Croson, Rachel, 2008. "Partners versus Strangers: Random Rematching in Public Goods Experiments," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  2. Robert W. Staiger & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "An Economic Theory of GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 215-248, March.
  3. Thomas R Palfrey & Howard Rosenthal, 2001. "A Strategic Calculus of Voting," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000039, David K. Levine.
  4. 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.
  5. Dani Rodrik, 1996. "Understanding Economic Policy Reform," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 9-41, March.
  6. Isaac, R. Mark & Walker, James M. & Williams, Arlington W., 1994. "Group size and the voluntary provision of public goods : Experimental evidence utilizing large groups," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-36, May.
  7. 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.
  8. Daniel Houser & Robert Kurzban, 2002. "Revisiting Kindness and Confusion in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1062-1069, September.
  9. Andreoni, J., 1993. "Cooperation in Public Goods Experiments: Kindness or Confusion?," Working papers 9309, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  10. Gary Bornstein & Ido Erev & Harel Goren, 1994. "The Effect of Repeated Play in the IPG and IPD Team Games," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 38(4), pages 690-707, December.
  11. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Qian, Yingyi, 1999. "The dynamics of reform and development in China: A political economy perspective," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 1105-1114, April.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Smith, Vernon L, 1985. "Experimental Economics: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 264-72, March.
  16. Arthur Schram & John Sonnemans, 2001. "Voter Turnout as a Participation Game: An Experimental Investigation," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000033, David K. Levine.
  17. 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.
  18. Alberto Alesina & Allan Drazen, 1989. "Why are Stabilizations Delayed?," NBER Working Papers 3053, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Cason, Timothy N. & Mui, Vai-Lam, 2005. "Uncertainty and resistance to reform in laboratory participation games," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 708-737, September.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. Jeffrey Sachs, 1995. "Reforms in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union in Light of the East Asian Experiences," CASE Network Studies and Analyses 0039, CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research.
  23. 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.
  24. Thomas Palfrey & Howard Rosenthal, 1983. "A strategic calculus of voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 7-53, January.
  25. R. McKelvey & T. Palfrey, 2010. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Normal Form Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 510, David K. Levine.
  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. Rachel Croson & Melanie Marks, 2000. "Step Returns in Threshold Public Goods: A Meta- and Experimental Analysis," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(3), pages 239-259, March.
  28. 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.
  29. Schram, Arthur & Sonnemans, Joep, 1996. "Why people vote: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 417-442, August.
  30. 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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecm:ausm04:1. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christopher F. Baum)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.