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Punishment Cannot Sustain Cooperation in a Public Good Game with Free-Rider Anonymity

  • Patel, Amrish


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

  • Cartwright, Edward


    (Department of Economics, Keynes College, University of Kent)

  • Mark, Van Vugt


    (Department of Work and Organizational Psychology, VU University Amsterdam)

Individuals often have legitimate but publicly unobservable reasons for not partaking in cooperative social endeavours. This means others who lack legitimate reasons may then have the opportunity to behave uncooperatively, i.e. free-ride, and be indistinguishable from those with legitimate reasons. Free-riders have a degree of anonymity. In the context of a public good game we consider the e¤ect of free-rider anonymity on the ability of voluntary punishment to sustain cooperative social norms. Despite only inducing a weak form of free-rider anonymity, punishment falls and cannot sustain cooperation.

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Paper provided by University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 451.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 19 May 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0451
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Box 640, SE 405 30 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Phone: 031-773 10 00
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