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Punishing Free Riders: how group size affects mutual monitoring and the provision of public goods

  • Jeffrey Carpenter

    ()

Standard game theoretic models predict, based on subgame perfection, that public goods will not be provided even if agents are allowed to monitor free riders at some cost. Further, because punishment is not credible in these environments, this prediction is invariant to the size of groups. However, there is now substantial evidence that people are reciprocally motivated and will punish free riders, regardless of the material costs of doing so. To examine the implications of reciprocally-minded agents, we simulate an environment populated with the behavioral strategies often seen in the experimental lab and use the simulation to develop hypotheses that are more specific about why group size should matter when sanctions are allowed. We then test these hypotheses experimentally using the voluntary contribution mechanism. We examine whether the effect of group members or if information about other group members is what is important. We find large groups provide public goods at levels no less than small groups because punishment does not fall in large groups. However, hindrances to monitoring do reduce the provision of the public good.

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File URL: http://www.middlebury.edu/services/econ/repec/mdl/ancoec/0206.pdf
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Paper provided by Middlebury College, Department of Economics in its series Middlebury College Working Paper Series with number 0206.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mdl:mdlpap:0206
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  3. Isaac, R Mark & Walker, James M, 1988. "Group Size Effects in Public Goods Provision: The Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(1), pages 179-99, February.
  4. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  5. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
  6. Jeffrey Carpenter, 2002. "When In Rome: Conformity and the Provision of Public Goods," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0217, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  7. Jeffrey Carpenter & Peter Matthews, 2002. "Social Reciprocity," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0229, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  8. Sethi, Rajiv & Somanathan, E., 2003. "Understanding reciprocity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 1-27, January.
  9. Martin Sefton & Robert S. Shupp & James Walker, 2005. "The Effect of Rewards and Sanctions in Provision of Public Goods," Working Papers 200504, Ball State University, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2005.
  10. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," IEW - Working Papers 010, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  11. Jeffery Carpenter & Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2006. "Mutual Monitoring in Teams: Theory and Experimental Evidence on the Importance of Reciprocity," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0608, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  12. Isaac, R. Mark & Walker, James M. & Williams, Arlington W., 1994. "Group size and the voluntary provision of public goods : Experimental evidence utilizing large groups," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-36, May.
  13. Bochet, Olivier & Page, Talbot & Putterman, Louis, 2006. "Communication and punishment in voluntary contribution experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 11-26, May.
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  17. Daniel G. Hansen, 1997. "Work performance and group incentives: A case study," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(1), pages 37-49, October.
  18. Miller, John H. & Butts, Carter T. & Rode, David, 2002. "Communication and cooperation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 179-195, February.
  19. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter & Ernst Fehr, . "Are People Conditionally Cooperative? Evidence from a Public Goods Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 016, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  20. Sethi, Rajiv, 1996. "Evolutionary stability and social norms," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 113-140, January.
  21. 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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  23. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
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