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Does Contributing Sequentially Increase the Level of Cooperation in Public Goods Games ? An Experimental Investigation

  • David Masclet
  • Marc Willinger

We run a series of experiments in which subjects have to choose their level of contribution to a pure public good. Our design differs from the standard public good game with respect to the decision procedure. Instead of deciding simultaneously in each round, subjects are randomly ordered in a sequence which differs from round to round. We compare sessions in which subjects can observe the exact contributions from earlier decisions ("Sequential treatment with Information") to sessions in which subjects decide sequentially but cannot observe earlier contributions ("Sequential treatment without information"). Furthermore, we investigate the effect of group size on aggregate contributions. Our result indicate that contributing sequentially increases the level of contribution to the public good when subjects are informed about the contribution levels of lower ranked subjects. Moreover, we observe that earlier players in the sequence try to influence positively the contributions of subsequent decision makers in the sequence, by making a large contribution. Such behaviour is motivated by the belief that subsequent players will reciprocate by also making a large contribution.

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File URL: http://www.lameta.univ-montp1.fr/Documents/DR2006-04.pdf
File Function: First version, 2006
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Paper provided by LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier in its series Working Papers with number 06-04.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2006
Date of revision: Jan 2006
Handle: RePEc:lam:wpaper:06-04
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  1. R. Muller & Asha Sadanand, 2003. "Order of Play, Forward Induction, and Presentation Effects in Two-Person Games," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 5-25, June.
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  8. Claudia Keser & Frans A.A.M. van Winden, 2000. "Conditional Cooperation and Voluntary Contributions to Public Goods," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 00-011/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  9. Moxnes, E. & van der Heijden, E.C.M., 2000. "The Effect of Leadership in a Public Bad Experiment," Discussion Paper 2000-102, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  10. John A. List & David Lucking-Reiley, 2002. "The Effects of Seed Money and Refunds on Charitable Giving: Experimental Evidence from a University Capital Campaign," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 215-233, February.
  11. R. Isaac & James Walker, 1998. "Nash as an Organizing Principle in the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods: Experimental Evidence," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 191-206, December.
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  14. Camerer, Colin F. & Knez, Marc & Weber, Roberto A., 1996. "Timing and Virtual Observability in Ultimatum Bargaining and Weak Link Coordination Games," Working Papers 970, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  15. Claudia Keser & Frans A.A.M. van Winden, 2000. "Conditional Cooperation and Voluntary Contributions to Public Goods," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 00-011/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  16. Keser, Claudia, 1996. "Voluntary contributions to a public good when partial contribution is a dominant strategy," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 359-366, March.
  17. repec:dgr:kubcen:2000102 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Why free ride? : Strategies and learning in public goods experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 291-304, December.
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