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Punishment and Counter-punishment in Public Goods Games: Can we still govern ourselves?

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Abstract

Recent public goods experiments have shown that free riding can be curtailed through mutual monitoring and sanctioning between members of a group. However, often we can not allow for punishment and exclude the possibility of counter-punishment occurring. We design a public goods experiment, where we allow for both punishment and counter-punishment. We find that in both partner and stranger treatments cooperation declines over time. The reason is that people are less willing to punish under the threat of counter-punishment. Participants squander their endowment in costly confrontations leading to a relative payoff loss, in comparison to a treatment without punishments.

Suggested Citation

  • Nikos Nikiforakis, 2004. "Punishment and Counter-punishment in Public Goods Games: Can we still govern ourselves?," Royal Holloway, University of London: Discussion Papers in Economics 04/05, Department of Economics, Royal Holloway University of London, revised Apr 2004.
  • Handle: RePEc:hol:holodi:0405
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    1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 1997. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jeffrey Carpenter & Peter Matthews, 2009. "What norms trigger punishment?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 12(3), pages 272-288, September.
    2. Klaus Abbink & Jordi Brandts & Benedikt Herrmann & Henrik Orzen, 2010. "Intergroup Conflict and Intra-group Punishment in an Experimental Contest Game," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 420-447.
    3. Simon Gaechter & Benedikt Herrmann, 2006. "The limits of self-governance in the presence of spite: Experimental evidence from urban and rural Russia," Discussion Papers 2006-13, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    4. Arhan Ertan & Talbot Page & Louis Putterman, 2005. "Can Endogenously Chosen Institutions Mitigate the Free-Rider Problem and Reduce Perverse Punishment?," Working Papers 2005-13, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    5. Robert Gazzale & Tapan Khopkar, 2011. "Remain silent and ye shall suffer: seller exploitation of reticent buyers in an experimental reputation system," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(2), pages 273-285, May.
    6. Stoop, Jan & van Soest, Daan & Vyrastekova, Jana, 2011. "Carrots without Bite: On the Ineffectiveness of 'Rewards' in sustaining Cooperation in Social Dilemmas," MPRA Paper 30538, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Stephan Kroll & Todd L. Cherry & Jason F. Shogren, 2007. "Voting, Punishment, And Public Goods," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(3), pages 557-570, July.
    8. Guillen, Pablo & Fatas, Enrique & Brañas-Garza, Pablo, 2010. "Inducing efficient conditional cooperation patterns in public goods games, an experimental investigation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 872-883, December.
    9. Marco Casari, 2005. "On the Design of Peer Punishment Experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, pages 107-115.
    10. Marco Casari & Luigi Luini, 2005. "Group Cooperation Under Alternative Peer Punishment Technologies: An Experiment," Labsi Experimental Economics Laboratory University of Siena 002, University of Siena.
    11. Talbot Page & Louis Putterman & Bruno Garcia, 2008. "Getting Punnishment Right: Do Costly Monitoring or Redustributive Punishment Help?," Working Papers 2008-1, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    12. 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.
    13. Haigner, Stefan & Kocher, Martin & Sutter, Matthias, 2006. "Choosing the Stick or the Carrot? Endogenous Institutional Choice in Social Dilemma Situations," CEPR Discussion Papers 5497, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Reuben, Ernesto & van Winden, Frans, 2010. "Fairness perceptions and prosocial emotions in the power to take," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 908-922, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    public goods; punishment; counter-punishment; mutual monitoring; free-riding; experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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