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Threat and punishment in public good experiments

Author

Listed:
  • David Masclet

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

  • Charles N. Noussair

    () (Department of Economics - Tilburg University [Netherlands])

  • Marie Claire Villeval

    () (GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - Université de Lyon - UJM - Université Jean Monnet [Saint-Étienne] - Université de Lyon - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Abstract

Experimental studies of social dilemmas have shown that while the existence of a sanctioning institution improves cooperation within groups, it also has a detrimental impact on group earnings in the short-run. Could the introduction of pre-play threats to punish have enough of a beneficial impact on cooperation, while not incurring the cost associated with actual punishment, so that they increase overall welfare ? We report an experiment in which players can issue non-binding threats to punish others based on their contribution levels to a public good. After observing others’ actual contributions, they choose their actual punishment level. We find that threats increase the level of contributions significantly. Efficiency is improved, but only in the long run. However, the possibility of sanctioning differences between threatened and actual punishment leads to lower threats, cooperation and welfare, restoring them to levels equal to or below the levels attained in the absence of threats.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • David Masclet & Charles N. Noussair & Marie Claire Villeval, 2010. "Threat and punishment in public good experiments," Post-Print halshs-00483009, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00483009
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00483009
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Carpenter, Jeffrey P., 2007. "The demand for punishment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 522-542, April.
    2. Laurent Denant-Boemont & David Masclet & Charles Noussair, 2007. "Punishment, counterpunishment and sanction enforcement in a social dilemma experiment," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 33(1), pages 145-167, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andreas Nicklisch & Irenaeus Wolff, 2011. "Cooperation Norms in Multiple‐Stage Punishment," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 13(5), pages 791-827, October.
    2. repec:kap:enreec:v:67:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10640-017-0126-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Fangfang Tan & Erte Xiao, 2014. "Third-Party Punishment: Retribution or Deterrence?," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2014-05, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
    4. Camerer, Colin F. & Ho, Teck-Hua, 2015. "Behavioral Game Theory Experiments and Modeling," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, Elsevier.
    5. Dirk Engelmann & Nikos Nikiforakis, 2015. "In the long-run we are all dead: on the benefits of peer punishment in rich environments," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 45(3), pages 561-577, October.
    6. Bolle, Friedel & Breitmoser, Yves & Schlächter, Steffen, 2011. "Extortion in the laboratory," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 207-218, May.
    7. Andreoni, James & Gee, Laura K., 2012. "Gun for hire: Delegated enforcement and peer punishment in public goods provision," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 1036-1046.
    8. Oprea, Ryan & Charness, Gary & Friedman, Daniel, 2014. "Continuous time and communication in a public-goods experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 212-223.
    9. Agnès Festré & Pierre Garrouste & Ankinée Kirakozian & Mira Toumi, 2017. "The Pen Might Be Mightier than the Sword: How Third-party Advice or Sanction Impacts on Pro-environmental Behavior," GREDEG Working Papers 2017-15, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, revised Aug 2017.
    10. Page, Talbot & Putterman, Louis & Garcia, Bruno, 2013. "Voluntary contributions with redistribution: The effect of costly sanctions when one person's punishment is another's reward," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 34-48.
    11. Jean-Philippe Atzenhoffer, 2012. "Could free-riders promote cooperation in the commons?," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 14(1), pages 85-101, January.
    12. Ramalingam, Abhijit & Godoy, Sara & Morales, Antonio J. & Walker, James M., 2016. "An individualistic approach to institution formation in public good games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 18-36.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    threats; cheap talk; sanctions; public good; experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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