The Spite Dilemma Revisited: Comparison between Chinese and Japanese
This paper studies Chinese choice behavior in the provision of public goods via the voluntary contribution mechanism. The laboratory experiment conducted in China adopts the same design as the one used in Saijo and Nakamura (1995), i.e. either cooperating (full contribution) or free riding (no contribution) is predicted as the unique Nash equilibrium with a high (larger than one) or low (smaller than one) marginal return of contribution. Comparing the results of Chinese subjects with their Japanese counterparts, we find significant differences between these two countries in terms of their choice behavior, despite the similarities in their cultures and the proximity in geographical positions. Japanese subjects are more likely to act spitefully, and, in contrast, Chinese subjects are more likely to perform cooperatively. In addition, concerning the deviations from the Nash equilibria with different marginal returns, the statistical results indicate that Chinese subjects behave more consistent with the theoretical prediction in the high marginal return case, while Japanese choice behavior seems less different from the theoretical expectation in the low marginal return case.
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