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Punishment, Inequality and Emotions

  • David Masclet


    (CREM - Centre de Recherche en Economie et Management - CNRS : UMR6211 - Université de Rennes I - Université de Caen)

  • Marie-Claire Villeval

    (GATE - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS : UMR5824 - Université Lumière - Lyon II - 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:
Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00142866
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  1. Carpenter, Jeffrey P., 2007. "Punishing free-riders: How group size affects mutual monitoring and the provision of public goods," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 31-51, July.
  2. Masclet, D. & Noussair, C. & Tucker, S. & Villeval, M.C., 2001. "Monetary and Non-monetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1141, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  3. Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  4. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., . "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Chapters in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  5. Daniel Houser & Erte Xiao & Kevin McCabe & Vernon Smith, 2005. "When Punishment Fails: Research on Sanctions, Intentions and Non- Cooperation," Experimental 0502001, EconWPA, revised 18 Feb 2005.
  6. Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, . "Driving Forces of Informal Sanctions," IEW - Working Papers 059, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  7. Louis Putterman & Christopher M. Anderson, 2003. "Do Non-strategic Sanctions Obey the Law of Demand? The Demand for Punishment in the Voluntary Contribution Mechanism," Working Papers 2003-15, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  8. Jeffrey Carpenter & Peter Hans Matthews, 2004. "Social Reciprocity," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0229r, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  9. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2003. "Altruistic Punishment in Humans," Microeconomics 0305006, EconWPA.
  10. Dufwenberg, M. & Kirchsteiger, G., 1998. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Discussion Paper 1998-37, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  11. Astrid Hopfensitz & Ernesto Reuben, 2005. "The Importance of Emotions for the Effectiveness of Social Punishment," Discussion Papers 06-09, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics, revised Mar 2006.
  12. 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.
  13. Engelmann Dirk & Strobel Martin, 2002. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments," Research Memorandum 015, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  14. 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.
  15. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  16. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs, 2005. "Driving Forces Behind Informal Sanctions," IZA Discussion Papers 1635, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Oliver Bochet & Talbot Page & Louis Putterman, 2002. "Communication and Punishment in Voluntary Contribution Experiments," Working Papers 2002-29, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  18. Ernst Fehr & Bettina Rockenbach, 2003. "Detrimental effects of sanctions on human altruism," Microeconomics 0305007, EconWPA.
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