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Do threshold patterns matter in public good provision?

  • Ye, Maoliang
  • Nikolov, Plamen
  • Casaburi, Lorenzo
  • Asher, Sam

There is a substantial literature examining coordination in public goods games. We conducted an experiment to explore how varying patterns of thresholds affect the willingness of subjects to contribute to a public good. We had subjects play a multi-period game where each subject was allocated an initial point endowment and told a threshold for the group had to choose how much to contribute to the common pot. Each period is identical, except for the possibility of having a different threshold, which is always stated before the players make their contributions. We found that while contributions are similar for the increasing and decreasing threshold group types when thresholds were low, a sizeable gap opens up around the average threshold size. We found that for nearly every threshold, it is more profitable to be in an increasing than in a decreasing threshold group type. Early cooperation seems to facilitate the achievement of harder-to-reach thresholds, which require considerable contributions from all members of the group. These findings are also very robust in the regression specifications. Our findings shed light on the role of past cooperative success and threshold patterns on subsequent willingness to cooperate.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 12029.

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Date of creation: 08 Dec 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:12029
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  1. 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.
  2. Jeffrey Carpenter, 2002. "The Demand for Punishment," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0243, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  3. Simon Gaechter & Benedikt Herrmann, 2006. "The limits of self-governance in the presence of spite: Experimental evidence from urban and rural Russia," Discussion Papers 2006-13, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  4. Bagnoli, Mark & McKee, Michael, 1991. "Voluntary Contribution Games: Efficient Private Provision of Public Goods," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(2), pages 351-66, April.
  5. Masclet, D. & Noussair, C. & Tucker, S. & Villeval, M.C., 2001. "Monetary and Non-monetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1141, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  6. Marks, Melanie B & Croson, Rachel T A, 1999. " The Effect of Incomplete Information in a Threshold Public Goods Experiment," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 99(1-2), pages 103-18, April.
  7. 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.
  8. Arno Riedl & Martijn Egas, 2005. "The economics of altruistic punishment and the demise of cooperation," Artefactual Field Experiments 00040, The Field Experiments Website.
  9. Bagnoli, Mark & Lipman, Barton L, 1989. "Provision of Public Goods: Fully Implementing the Core through Private Contributions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(4), pages 583-601, October.
  10. Rachel Croson & Melanie Marks, 2000. "Step Returns in Threshold Public Goods: A Meta- and Experimental Analysis," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 239-259, March.
  11. Palfrey, Thomas R. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1984. "Participation and the provision of discrete public goods: a strategic analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 171-193, July.
  12. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A. & Laury, Susan K., 2002. "Private costs and public benefits: unraveling the effects of altruism and noisy behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 255-276, February.
  13. Marks, Melanie & Croson, Rachel, 1998. "Alternative rebate rules in the provision of a threshold public good: An experimental investigation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 195-220, February.
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