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Another hidden cost of incentives: the detrimental effect on norm enforcement

Author

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  • Andreas Fuster
  • Stephan Meier

Abstract

Monetary incentives are often considered as a way to foster contributions to public goods in society and firms. This paper investigates experimentally the effect of monetary incentives in the presence of a norm enforcement mechanism. Norm enforcement through peer punishment has been shown to be effective in raising contributions by itself. We test whether and how monetary incentives interact with punishment and how this in turn affects contributions. Our main findings are that free riders are punished less harshly in the treatment with incentives, and as a consequence, average contributions to the public good are no higher than without incentives. This finding ties to and extends previous research on settings in which monetary incentives may fail to have the desired effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Fuster & Stephan Meier, 2009. "Another hidden cost of incentives: the detrimental effect on norm enforcement," Working Papers 09-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:09-2
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    Cited by:

    1. Xiaofei Pan & Daniel Houser, 2017. "Social approval, competition and cooperation," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 20(2), pages 309-332, June.
    2. Lorenz Goette & Egon Tripodi, 2021. "Social Influence in Prosocial Behavior: Evidence from a Large-Scale Experiment [“Social Distance and Social Decisions]," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 2373-2398.
    3. Roland Benabou & Jean Tirole, 2011. "Laws and Norms," NBER Working Papers 17579, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Erte Xiao & Howard Kunreuther, 2016. "Punishment and Cooperation in Stochastic Social Dilemmas," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 60(4), pages 670-693, June.
    5. Maho Nakagawa & Mathieu Lefebvre & Anne Stenger, 2022. "Long-lasting effects of incentives and social preference: A public goods experiment," Post-Print hal-03777681, HAL.
    6. Imas, Alex, 2014. "Working for the “warm glow”: On the benefits and limits of prosocial incentives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 14-18.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Human behavior; Social choice;

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