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Endogenous Group Formation via Unproductive Costs

Author

Listed:
  • Jason Aimone

    (George Mason University)

  • Laurence R. Iannaccone

    (Chapman University)

  • Michael D. Makowsky

    (Department of Economics, Towson University)

  • Jared Rubin

    (California State University, Fullerton)

Abstract

How and why do groups form? In many cases, group formation is endogenous to the actions that individual members take and the norms associated with these actions. In this paper, we conduct an experiment that allows groups to form endogenously in the context of the classic voluntary contribution mechanism public goods game. We identify unproductive costs � �sacrifice� � as a mechanism for endogenous group formation, a result which is consistent with the �sacrifice and stigma� theory of religious groups. We find that changes in relative prices (between private and public goods) act to screen out free-riders, subjects who choose high-sacrifice groups contribute more to the public good once in these groups, and moderate welfare gains are available to those who voluntarily incur unproductive costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Jason Aimone & Laurence R. Iannaccone & Michael D. Makowsky & Jared Rubin, 2010. "Endogenous Group Formation via Unproductive Costs," Working Papers 2010-15, Towson University, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:tow:wpaper:2010-15
    as

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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Michael D. Makowsky, 2012. "Emergent Extremism In A Multi‐Agent Model Of Religious Clubs," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(2), pages 327-347, April.
    2. Ran Abramitzky, 2008. "The Limits of Equality: Insights from the Israeli Kibbutz," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1111-1159.
    3. Bohnet, Iris & Kubler, Dorothea, 2005. "Compensating the cooperators: is sorting in the prisoner's dilemma possible?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 61-76, January.
    4. David Masclet & Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2003. "Monetary and Nonmonetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 366-380, March.
    5. Laurence Iannaccone & Eli Berman, 2006. "Religious extremism: The good, the bad, and the deadly," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 109-129, July.
    6. Houser, Daniel & Xiao, Erte & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon, 2008. "When punishment fails: Research on sanctions, intentions and non-cooperation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 509-532, March.
    7. Giorgio Coricelli & Dietmar Fehr & Gerlinde Fellner, 2004. "Partner Selection in Public Goods Experiments," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 48(3), pages 356-378, June.
    8. Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker, 2005. "Combining Monetary and Social Sanctions to Promote Cooperation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(3), pages 649-660, July.
    9. Eli Berman, 2000. "Sect, Subsidy, and Sacrifice: An Economist's View of Ultra-Orthodox Jews," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 905-953.
    10. Kurtis Swope, 2002. "An Experimental Investigation of Excludable Public Goods," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 5(3), pages 209-222, December.
    11. Talbot Page & Louis Putterman & Bulent Unel, 2005. "Voluntary Association in Public Goods Experiments: Reciprocity, Mimicry and Efficiency," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 1032-1053, October.
    12. Iannaccone, Laurence R, 1992. "Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-Riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 271-291, April.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Endogenous Group Formation; Laboratory Experiment; Free Riding; Public Goods Game; Voluntary Contribution Mechanism; Sacrifice; Unproductive Costs.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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