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Law and Behaviours in Social Dilemmas: Testing the Effect of Obligations on Cooperation

  • Roberto Galbiati

    ()

  • Pietro Vertova

    ()

Laws consist of two components: the ‘obligations’ they express and the ‘incentives’ designed to enforce them. In this paper we run a public good experiment to test whether or not obligations have any independent effect on cooperation in social dilemmas. The results show that, for given marginal incentives, different levels of minimum contribution required by obligation determine significantly different levels of average contributions. Moreover, unexpected changes in the minimum contribution set up by obligation have asymmetric dynamic effects on the levels of cooperation: a reduction does not alter the descending trend of cooperation, whereas an increase induces a temporary re-start in the average level of cooperation. Nonetheless, obligations per se cannot sustain cooperation over time.

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Paper provided by University of Siena in its series Labsi Experimental Economics Laboratory University of Siena with number 001.

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Date of creation: Apr 2005
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Handle: RePEc:usi:labsit:001
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  1. Gneezy, Uri & Rustichini, Aldo, 2000. "A Fine is a Price," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 1-17, January.
  2. Isaac, R. Mark & Walker, James M. & Williams, Arlington W., 1994. "Group size and the voluntary provision of public goods : Experimental evidence utilizing large groups," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-36, May.
  3. Cleve Willis & John Stranlund & Juan-Camilo Cardenas, 2000. "Local environmental control and institutional crowding-out," Artefactual Field Experiments 00028, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. Colin F. Camerer & Ernst Fehr, . "Measuring Social Norms and Preferences using Experimental Games: A Guide for Social Scientists," IEW - Working Papers 097, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  5. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  6. 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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