IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The decentralization of punishments in experiments with public goods


  • Zuzana Berná


  • Jiøí Špalek

    () (Department of Public Economics, Masaryk University)


This paper deals with the effects of introducing adequate punishment opportunities in experiments with public goods. Decentralized punishment means that the contributing subjects have a possibility to sanction free riders without the intervention of an external authority. The very first experiments demonstrated a significantly positive effect of a punishment opportunity on enhancing cooperation in situations of social dilemma. Following studies, however, pointed at limited effectiveness of this mechanism. The first part of the paper summarizes selected literature on the topic and presents its principal findings. The second part is dedicated to the presentation of the results of an experimental series on decentralized punishment realized in the Czech Republic. The last part introduces possible questions and topics which may be subject of future research within this area.

Suggested Citation

  • Zuzana Berná & Jiøí Špalek, 2012. "The decentralization of punishments in experiments with public goods," Working Papers 05, Masaryk University, Faculty of Economics and Administration, Department of Public Economics, revised Mar 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:mub:wpaper:05

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Laurent Denant-Boemont & David Masclet & Charles Noussair, 2007. "Punishment, counterpunishment and sanction enforcement in a social dilemma experiment," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 33(1), pages 145-167, October.
    4. repec:cup:apsrev:v:86:y:1992:i:02:p:404-417_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Balafoutas, Loukas & Nikiforakis, Nikos, 2012. "Norm enforcement in the city: A natural field experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1773-1785.
    6. Nikiforakis, Nikos, 2008. "Punishment and counter-punishment in public good games: Can we really govern ourselves," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 91-112, February.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. Nikos Nikiforakis & Hans-Theo Normann, 2008. "A comparative statics analysis of punishment in public-good experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 11(4), pages 358-369, December.
    10. repec:cup:apsrev:v:102:y:2008:i:01:p:33-48_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    economic experiment; cooperation; public goods; decentralized punishment; partner and stranger matching;

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mub:wpaper:05. 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: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.