Punishment and Counter-punishment in Public Goods Games: Can we still govern ourselves?
In the public goods literature, there have been recently a number of experiments which demonstrate how the problem of the under-provision of a public good can be solved through mutual monitoring and sanctioning between the members of a group when antisocial behavior is observed. In many circumstances, however, we can not allow for punishment and exclude the possibility of counter-punishment occurring. We design a public goods experiment based on Fehr and Gaechter (2000) where we allow for both punishment and counter-punishment. We find that in both Partner and Stranger treatments average contributions decline steadily over time, at a rate similar to the treatment were no punishment was allowed, and tend towards full free-riding. The reason for this change seems to be that under the threat of counter-punishment people are less willing to punish. An important result is that participants squander their endowment in punishment and counter-punishment actions leading to a relative payoff loss, in comparison to the treatment without punishments.
References listed on IDEAS
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