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Punishment, Inequality and Emotions

  • David Masclet


    (CREM - Centre de Recherche en Economie et Management - CNRS - Université de Caen Basse-Normandie - UR1 - Université de Rennes 1)

  • Marie Claire Villeval


    (GATE - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - Ecole Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines)

Cooperation among people who are not related to each other is sustained by the availability of punishment devices which help enforce social norms (Fehr and Gächter, 2002). However, the rationale for costly punishment remains unclear. This paper reports the results of an experiment investigating inequality aversion and negative emotions as possible determinants of punishment. We compare two treatments of a public good game, one in which costly punishment reduces the immediate payoff inequality between the punisher and the target, and one in which it does not affect inequality. We show that while inequality-aversion prevents some subjects from punishing in the equal cost treatment, negative emotions are the primary motive for punishment. Results also indicate that the intensity of punishment increases with the level of inequality, and reduces earnings inequality over time.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number halshs-00142866.

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Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Working paper du GATE 2006-04. 2006
Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00142866
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  1. David Masclet & Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2003. "Monetary and Nonmonetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 366-380, March.
  2. Jeffrey Carpenter, 2002. "Punishing Free Riders: how group size affects mutual monitoring and the provision of public goods," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0206, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  3. Astrid Hopfensitz & Ernesto Reuben, 2009. "The Importance of Emotions for the Effectiveness of Social Punishment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(540), pages 1534-1559, October.
  4. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," IEW - Working Papers 010, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  5. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  6. Jeffrey Carpenter & Peter Matthews, 2002. "Social Reciprocity," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0229, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  7. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs, 2005. "Driving Forces Behind Informal Sanctions," IZA Discussion Papers 1635, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., . "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Chapters in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  9. Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, . "Driving Forces of Informal Sanctions," IEW - Working Papers 059, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  10. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
  11. Oliver Bochet & Talbot Page & Louis Putterman, 2002. "Communication and Punishment in Voluntary Contribution Experiments," Working Papers 2002-29, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  12. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2003. "Altruistic Punishment in Humans," Microeconomics 0305006, EconWPA.
  13. Daniel Houser & Erte Xiao & Kevin McCabe & Vernon Smith, 2005. "When punishment fails: Research on sanctions, intentions and non- cooperation," Experimental 0503001, EconWPA.
  14. Anderson, Christopher M. & Putterman, Louis, 2006. "Do non-strategic sanctions obey the law of demand? The demand for punishment in the voluntary contribution mechanism," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-24, January.
  15. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  16. Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  17. Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2004. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 857-869, September.
  18. Ernst Fehr & Bettina Rockenbach, 2003. "Detrimental effects of sanctions on human altruism," Microeconomics 0305007, EconWPA.
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