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Does contributing sequentially increase the level of cooperation in public goods game ? an experimental investigation


  • David Masclet

    (CREM - Centre de recherche en économie et management - UNICAEN - Université de Caen Normandie - NU - Normandie Université - UR1 - Université de Rennes 1 - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Marc Willinger

    (LAMETA - Laboratoire Montpelliérain d'Économie Théorique et Appliquée - UM1 - Université Montpellier 1 - UM3 - Université Paul-Valéry - Montpellier 3 - Montpellier SupAgro - Centre international d'études supérieures en sciences agronomiques - INRA Montpellier - Institut national de la recherche agronomique [Montpellier] - UM - Université de Montpellier - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Montpellier SupAgro - Institut national d’études supérieures agronomiques de Montpellier)


We run a series of experiments in which subjects have to choose their level of contribution to a pure public good. Our design differs from the standard public good game with respect to the decision procedure. Instead of deciding simultaneously in each round, subjects are randomly ordered in a sequence which differs from round to round. We compare sessions in which subjects can observe the exact contributions from earlier decisions ("Sequential treatment with Information") to sessions in which subjects decide sequentially but cannot observe earlier contributions ("Sequential treatment without information"). Furthermore, we investigate the effect of group size on aggregate contributions. Our result indicate that contributing sequentially increases the level of contribution to the public good when subjects are informed about the contribution levels of lower ranked subjects. Moreover, we observe that earlier players in the sequence try to influence positively the contributions of subsequent decision makers in the sequence, by making a large contribution. Such behaviour is motivated by the belief that subsequent players will reciprocate by also making a large contribution.
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Suggested Citation

  • David Masclet & Marc Willinger, 2005. "Does contributing sequentially increase the level of cooperation in public goods game ? an experimental investigation," Post-Print halshs-00010179, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00010179
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jan Potters & Martin Sefton & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Leading-by-example and signaling in voluntary contribution games: an experimental study," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 33(1), pages 169-182, October.
    2. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Why free ride? : Strategies and learning in public goods experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 291-304, December.
    3. Weimann, Joachim, 1994. "Individual behaviour in a free riding experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 185-200, June.
    4. John A. List & David Lucking-Reiley, 2002. "The Effects of Seed Money and Refunds on Charitable Giving: Experimental Evidence from a University Capital Campaign," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 215-233, February.
    5. Keser, Claudia & van Winden, Frans, 2000. " Conditional Cooperation and Voluntary Contributions to Public Goods," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(1), pages 23-39, March.
    6. R. Isaac & James Walker, 1998. "Nash as an Organizing Principle in the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods: Experimental Evidence," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 1(3), pages 191-206, December.
    7. Keser, Claudia, 1996. "Voluntary contributions to a public good when partial contribution is a dominant strategy," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 359-366, March.
    8. Roberto Weber & Colin Camerer & Marc Knez, 2004. "Timing and Virtual Observability in Ultimatum Bargaining and “Weak Link” Coordination Games," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 7(1), pages 25-48, February.
    9. R. Muller & Asha Sadanand, 2003. "Order of Play, Forward Induction, and Presentation Effects in Two-Person Games," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 6(1), pages 5-25, June.
    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.
    11. Moxnes, E. & van der Heijden, E.C.M., 2000. "The Effect of Leadership in a Public Bad Experiment," Discussion Paper 2000-102, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    12. R. Isaac & James Walker & Susan Thomas, 1984. "Divergent evidence on free riding: An experimental examination of possible explanations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 113-149, January.
    13. Cooper, Russell & Douglas V. DeJong & Robert Forsythe & Thomas W. Ross, 1993. "Forward Induction in the Battle-of-the-Sexes Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1303-1316, December.
    14. Amershi, A.H. & Sadanand, A.B. & Sadanand, V., 1989. "Manipulated Nash Equilibria - I: Forward Induction And Thought Process Dynamics In Extensive Form," Working Papers 1989-4, University of Guelph, Department of Economics and Finance.
    15. Andereoni, J., 1988. "Why Free Ride? Strategies And Learning In Public Goods Experiments," Working papers 375, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
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    Cited by:

    1. Edward Cartwright & Amrish Patel, 2010. "Imitation and the Incentive to Contribute Early in a Sequential Public Good Game," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 12(4), pages 691-708, August.

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