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Selecting public goods institutions: who likes to punish and reward?

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  • Michalis Drouvelis
  • Julian Jamison

Abstract

The authors extend the standard public goods game in a variety of ways, in particular by allowing for endogenous preference over institutions and by studying the relationship between individual types, their preferences, and later behavior within the various institutional environments. They collect individual data on a variety of demographic factors, in addition to measuring levels of risk aversion and ambiguity aversion (over both gains and losses). The authors then elicit preferences in an incentive-compatible manner over voluntary contribution mechanisms with and without reward and punishment options. Finally, they randomly assign subjects to one of the four institutions and observe repeated play. They find that payoffs are significantly greater when punishment is allowed but that only a small minority of participants prefers such an environment. There is at most a weak link between individual characteristics and elicited preferences over environments. On the other hand, institutional preferences, as well as individual characteristics, are more strongly predictive of behavior in the public goods game. For instance, loss averse individuals preemptively reward more often when that option is available. This result suggests that when studying social interactions, especially if people can choose whether to participate in a sanctions-and-rewards mechanism, it is important to consider individual attitudes toward risk and uncertainty.

Suggested Citation

  • Michalis Drouvelis & Julian Jamison, 2012. "Selecting public goods institutions: who likes to punish and reward?," Working Papers 12-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:12-5
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniele Nosenzo & Theo Offerman & Martin Sefton & Ailko van der Veen, 2016. "Discretionary Sanctions and Rewards in the Repeated Inspection Game," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(2), pages 502-517, February.
    2. Daniele Nosenzo & Martin Sefton, 2012. "Promoting Cooperation: the Distribution of Reward and Punishment Power," Discussion Papers 2012-08, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Human behavior ; Public goods ; Uncertainty ; Risk ; Reward (Psychology);

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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