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Social Dilennas and shame - based Sanctions: Experimental results from rural Zimbabwe

  • Abigail Barr

Using two economic experiments I investigate how a sample of rural communities in Zimbabwe approach social dilemmas. When provided with an opportunity to impose sanctions in the context of a public goods game, fourteen out of eighteen communities achieved higher levels of cooperation. In thirteen communities the imposition of shame-based sanctions in the form of lighthearted criticism was observed. The resulting data revealed that: both non-cooperators and cooperators were criticised; community members cared about what their neighbours thought of them and made adjustments to their behaviour accordingly; the overall pattern rather than individual experiences of criticism affected subsequent behaviour; those who made low contributions and witnessed the criticism of others who made similar contributions, made higher contributions subsequently; while those who experienced such criticism first-hand made significantly smaller adjustments to their behaviour; those who made high contributions and witnessed the criticism of others who made similar contributions, made lower contributions subsequently; and to the extent that an opportunity to criticise passed by unexploited subsequent levels of cooperation were reduced.

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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number WPS/2001-11.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2001
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:wps/2001-11
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  1. Sugden, Robert, 1984. "Reciprocity: The Supply of Public Goods through Voluntary Contributions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376), pages 772-87, December.
  2. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  3. Udry, Christopher, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in a Rural Credit Market: An Empirical Investigation in Northern Nigeria," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 495-526, July.
  4. Martin Ravallion & Shubham Chaudhuri, 1997. "Risk and Insurance in Village India: Comment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(1), pages 171-184, January.
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