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Punishment, inequality, and welfare : a public good experiment

Listed author(s):
  • David Masclet

    (CREM - Centre de Recherche en Economie et Management - UNICAEN - Université Caen Normandie - UR1 - Université de Rennes 1 - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CIRANO - Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en analyse des organisations - UQAM - Université du Québec à Montréal)

  • Marie Claire Villeval

    ()

    (GATE - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - Ecole Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor - Institute for the Study of Labor IZA)

This paper reports the results of an experiment that investigates the relationships between inequality and punishment. In particular, we analyze how inter-personal comparisons affect altruistic punishment behavior. In addition, we examine how punishment affects inequality over time. We compare two treatments of a two-stage 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 the current level of inequality. Our results indicate that subjects punish even when they cannot alter the current distribution of payoffs. We find however that in both treatments, the intensity of punishment increases in the level of inequality. Finally, despite its cost, we show that punishment improves welfare in association with a decrease in the level of inequality over time.

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File URL: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00196567/document
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Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number halshs-00196567.

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Date of creation: 2008
Publication status: Published in Social Choice and Welfare, Springer Verlag, 2008, 31 (3), pp.475-502. <10.1007/s00355-007-0291-7>
Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00196567
DOI: 10.1007/s00355-007-0291-7
Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00196567
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/

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