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Free Riding in the Lab and in the Field

  • Englmaier, Florian
  • Gebhardt, Georg

We run a public good experiment in the field and in the lab with (partly) the same subjects. The field experiment is a true natural field experiment as subjects do not know that they are exposed to an experimental variation. We can show that subjects' behavior in the classic lab public good experiment correlates with their behavior in the structurally comparable public good treatment in the field but not with behavior in any of two control treatments we ran in the field. This effect is also economically significant. We conclude that a) the classic lab public good experiment captures important aspects of structurally equivalent real life situations and b) that behavior in lab and field at least in our setting is driven by the same underlying forces.

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File URL: http://epub.ub.uni-muenchen.de/13210/1/344.pdf
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Paper provided by Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich in its series Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems with number 344.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
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Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:344
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  1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocitys," IEW - Working Papers 040, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Dean Karlan, 2004. "Using experimental economics to measure social capital and predict financial decisions," Artefactual Field Experiments 00074, The Field Experiments Website.
  3. Charness, Gary B & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0dc3k4m5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  4. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  5. John List & Steven Levitt, 2007. "Viewpoint: On the generalizability of lab behaviour to the field," Artefactual Field Experiments 00001, The Field Experiments Website.
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  8. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta & Oscar Volij, 2008. "Experientia Docet: Professionals Play Minimax in Laboratory Experiments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(1), pages 71-115, 01.
  9. Matthias Benz & Stephan Meier, 2008. "Do people behave in experiments as in the field?—evidence from donations," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 268-281, September.
  10. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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  12. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
  13. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List & David H. Reiley, Jr., 2009. "What Happens in the Field Stays in the Field: Exploring Whether Professionals Play Minimax in Laboratory Experiments," NBER Working Papers 15609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. John A. List, 2005. "The Behavioralist Meets the Market: Measuring Social Preferences and Reputation Effects in Actual Transactions," NBER Working Papers 11616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Claude Meidinger & Jean-Louis Rullière & Marie Claire Villeval, 2001. "Does Team-Based Compensation Give Rise to Problems when Agents Vary in their Ability ?," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00179979, HAL.
  16. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  17. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta & Oscar Volij, 2009. "Field Centipedes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1619-35, September.
  18. Claude Meidinger & Jean-Louis Rullière & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2003. "Does Team-Based Compensation Give Rise to Problems When Agents Vary in Their Ability?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 253-272, November.
  19. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  20. Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 1999. "Collective action as a social exchange," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 341-369, July.
  21. Dean S. Karlan, 2005. "Using Experimental Economics to Measure Social Capital And Predict Financial Decisions," Working Papers 909, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
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