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Bridging the Great Divide in South Africa: Inequality and Punishment in the Provision of Public Goods

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  • Visser, Martine

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

  • Burns, Justine

    (University of Cape Town, Private Bag,)

Abstract

We explore the effect of income inequality and peer punishment on voluntary provision of public goods in an experimental context. Our sample draws from nine fishing communities in South-Africa where high levels of inequality prevail. We find that aggregate cooperation is higher in both the voluntary contribution mechanism (VCM) and punishment treatments for unequal groups. Once peer sanctioning is introduced over-contribution by low relative to high endowment players observed in the VCM treatment is significantly enhanced. Demand for punishment by low and high endowment players are similar, irrespective of differences in relative costs, and in unequal groups free-riding is punished more, specifically by low endowment players. We observe inequality aversion both in endowments and with respect to the interaction of endowments and contributions: high endowment players receive more punishment, but also receive more punishment for negative deviation from the group mean share.

Suggested Citation

  • Visser, Martine & Burns, Justine, 2006. "Bridging the Great Divide in South Africa: Inequality and Punishment in the Provision of Public Goods," Working Papers in Economics 219, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0219
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/2694
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kerri Brick & Martine Visser & Justine Burns, 2012. "Risk Aversion: Experimental Evidence from South African Fishing Communities," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 94(1), pages 133-152.
    2. Reuben, Ernesto & Riedl, Arno, 2013. "Enforcement of contribution norms in public good games with heterogeneous populations," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 122-137.
    3. Dickinson, David L. & Masclet, David & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2015. "Norm enforcement in social dilemmas: An experiment with police commissioners," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 74-85.
    4. Hasson, Reviva & Löfgren, Åsa & Visser, Martine, 2010. "Climate change in a public goods game: Investment decision in mitigation versus adaptation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 331-338, December.
    5. Weng, Qian & Carlsson, Fredrik, 2015. "Cooperation in teams: The role of identity, punishment, and endowment distribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 25-38.
    6. Kölle, Felix, 2015. "Heterogeneity and cooperation: The role of capability and valuation on public goods provision," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 120-134.
    7. Nikos Nikiforakis & Hans-Theo Normann & Brian Wallace, 2010. "Asymmetric Enforcement of Cooperation in a Social Dilemma," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 638-659, January.
    8. Felix Kolle, 2012. "Heterogeneity and Cooperation in Privileged Groups: The Role of Capability and Valuation on Public Goods Provision," Discussion Papers 2012-07, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    9. Sebastian Prediger, 2011. "How does income inequality affect cooperation and punishment in public good settings?," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201138, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    10. Kerri Brick & Martine Visser, 2012. "Heterogeneity and Voting: A Framed Public Good Experiment," Working Papers 298, Economic Research Southern Africa.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inequality; cooperation; punishment; public goods experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Q20 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - General

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