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

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  • Roberto Galbiati

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  • Pietro Vertova

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Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Roberto Galbiati & Pietro Vertova, 2005. "Law and Behaviours in Social Dilemmas: Testing the Effect of Obligations on Cooperation," Labsi Experimental Economics Laboratory University of Siena 001, University of Siena.
  • Handle: RePEc:usi:labsit:001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gneezy, Uri & Rustichini, Aldo, 2000. "A Fine is a Price," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, pages 1-17.
    2. Steven Shavell & A. Mitchell Polinsky, 2000. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 45-76.
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    4. Cooter, Robert, 1998. "Expressive Law and Economics," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 585-608, June.
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    6. Andreoni, James A & Miller, John H, 1993. "Rational Cooperation in the Finitely Repeated Prisoner's Dilemma: Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(418), pages 570-585, May.
    7. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Roberto Galbiati & Pietro Vertova, 2006. "The Hidden Effect of Rules: Behavioural consequences of Obligations," Discussion Papers 18_2006, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.
    2. Bruno Deffains & Claude Fluet, 2007. "Legal versus Normative Incentives under Judicial Error," Cahiers de recherche 0718, CIRPEE.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Obligation; Incentives; Public Good Game; Experiments.;

    JEL classification:

    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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