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Inequality Aversion and Antisocial Punishment

  • Thöni, Christian


Antisocial punishment - punishment of pro-social cooperators - has shown to be detrimental for the efficiency of informal punishment mechanisms in public goods games. The motives behind antisocial punishment acts are not yet well understood. This article shows that inequality aversion predicts antisocial punishment in public goods games with punishment. The model by Fehr and Schmidt (1999) allows to derive conditions under which antisocial punishment occurs. With data from three studies on public goods games with punishment I evaluate the predictions. A majority of the observed antisocial punishment acts are not compatible with inequality aversion. These results suggest that the desire to equalize payoffs is not a major determinant of antisocial punishment.

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Paper provided by University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science in its series Economics Working Paper Series with number 1111.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:usg:econwp:2011:11
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  1. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2004. "Third-party punishment and social norms," Experimental 0409002, EconWPA.
  2. Laurent Denant-Boèmont & David Masclet & Charles Noussair, 2007. "Punishment, counterpunishment and sanction enforcement in a social dilemma experiment," Post-Print halshs-00144843, HAL.
  3. Louis Putterman & Christopher M. Anderson, 2003. "Do Non-strategic Sanctions Obey the Law of Demand? The Demand for Punishment in the Voluntary Contribution Mechanism," Working Papers 2003-15, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  4. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," IEW - Working Papers 010, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  5. Matthias Cinyabuguma & Talbot Page & Louis Putterman, 2006. "Can second-order punishment deter perverse punishment?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 265-279, September.
  6. Cheung, Stephen L., 2011. "New Insights into Conditional Cooperation and Punishment from a Strategy Method Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 5689, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Johnson, Tim & Dawes, Christopher T. & Fowler, James H. & McElreath, Richard & Smirnov, Oleg, 2009. "The role of egalitarian motives in altruistic punishment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 102(3), pages 192-194, March.
  8. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  9. Simon Gaechter & Benedikt Herrmann & Christian Thoeni, 2010. "Culture and Cooperation," Discussion Papers 2010-09, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  10. David Masclet & Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker & Marie Claire Villeval, 2003. "Monetary and non Monetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," Post-Print halshs-00175251, HAL.
  11. Daniel Houser & Erte Xiao, 2009. "Inequality-Seeking Punishment," Working Papers 1009, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
  12. David Masclet & Marie Claire Villeval, 2008. "Punishment, inequality, and welfare : a public good experiment," Post-Print halshs-00196567, HAL.
  13. Klaus Abbink & Benedikt Herrmann, 2009. "The Moral Costs of Nastiness," Discussion Papers 2009-10, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  14. Klaus Abbink & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 2008. "The Pleasure of Being Nasty," FEMM Working Papers 08037, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Faculty of Economics and Management.
  15. Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2005. "Driving Forces Behind Informal Sanctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(6), pages 2017-2030, November.
  16. Simon Gaechter & Benedikt Herrmann, 2010. "The limits of self-governance when cooperators get punished: Experimental evidence from urban and rural Russia," Discussion Papers 2010-05, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  17. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
  18. Zizzo, Daniel John, 2003. "Money burning and rank egalitarianism with random dictators," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 263-266, November.
  19. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  20. Ertan, Arhan & Page, Talbot & Putterman, Louis, 2009. "Who to punish? Individual decisions and majority rule in mitigating the free rider problem," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(5), pages 495-511, July.
  21. Nikiforakis, Nikos, 2008. "Punishment and counter-punishment in public good games: Can we really govern ourselves," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 91-112, February.
  22. Kristoffel Grechenig & Andreas Nicklisch & Christian Thöni, 2010. "Punishment despite Reasonable Doubt – A Public Goods Experiment with Uncertainty over Contributions," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2010_11, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
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