The Demographics of cooperation: Evidence from a field experiment in the Gori-Ganga Basin
The public goods problem (Hardin, 1968) either viewed as a problem of extraction or that of contribution has had a long history in the Social Sciences. Our experimental design uses a standard Voluntary Contributions Mechanism (VCM) game with a moderately large group of ten and face-to-face communication. The subjects, who are villagers in the Gori-Ganga Basin of the Central Himalayas, are not re-matched every period. Our results are somewhat different from laboratory experiments using a similar design such as Isaac and Walker (1988a, 1988b). A noteworthy general observation is that even with a relatively low Marginal Per Capita Return (MPCR = 0.2) and a large group we find a steady contribution rate around 55 percent which diminishes slightly at the end of the session to around 50 percent. We also delve into the demographic characteristics of our subject pool and find that individual contribution to the common pool is determined by gender, age, caste, literacy and history of cooperation in the experiment. However, face-to-face communication is not seen to increase average individual contribution to the common pool.
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