Punishment despite Reasonable Doubt – A Public Goods Experiment with Uncertainty over Contributions
Under a great variety of legally relevant circumstances, people have to decide whether or not to cooperate, when they face an incentive to defect. The law sometimes provides people with sanctioning mechanisms to enforce pro-social behavior. Experimental evidence on voluntary public good provision shows that the option to punish others substantially improves cooperation, even if punishment is costly. However, these studies focus on situations where there is no uncertainty about others' behavior. We investigate punishment in a world with “reasonable doubt” about others' contributions. Interestingly, people reveal a high willingness to punish even if their information about cooperation rates is inaccurate, or noisy. If there is some non-trivial degree of noise, unishment (1) cannot maintain high contributions and (2) reduces welfare even below the level of a setting without punishment. Our findings suggest that sufficient information accuracy about others' behavior is crucial for he efficiency of sanction mechanisms. If a situation is characterized by low information accuracy, precluding sanctions can be optimal.
|Date of creation:||Apr 2010|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10 - D- 53113 Bonn|
Phone: +49-(0)228 / 91416-0
Fax: +49-(0)228 / 91416-55
Web page: http://www.coll.mpg.de/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1999.
"The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law,"
NBER Working Papers
6993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000.
"Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
- Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," IEW - Working Papers 010, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 1999. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 183, CESifo Group Munich.
- M. Levati & Andrea Morone & Annamaria Fiore, 2009.
"Voluntary contributions with imperfect information: An experimental study,"
Springer, vol. 138(1), pages 199-216, January.
- Annamaria Fiore & M. Vittoria Levati & Andrea Morone, 2006. "Voluntary contributions with imperfect information: An experimental study," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2006-30, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
- Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
- Feess, Eberhard & Wohlschlegel, Ansgar, 2009. "Why higher punishment may reduce deterrence," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 104(2), pages 69-71, August.
- A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 2005.
"The Theory of Public Enforcement of Law,"
05-004, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
- Miceli, Thomas J., 1991. "Optimal criminal procedure: Fairness and deterrence," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 3-10, May.
- Lando Henrik, 2009. "Prevention of Crime and the Optimal Standard of Proof in Criminal Law," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 33-52, January.
- Ehrlich, Isaac, 1982. "The optimum enforcement of laws and the concept of justice: A positive analysis," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 3-27, June.
- Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2010_11. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Marc Martin)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.