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Punishment and Counter-punishment in Public Goods Games: Can we still govern ourselves?

  • Nikos Nikiforakis

    (Royal Holloway, University of London)

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.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/exp/papers/0403/0403001.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Experimental with number 0403001.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: 05 Mar 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpex:0403001
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 45
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Simon G├Ąchter, 1997. "Reciprocity as a contract enforcement device: experimental evidence," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5911, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  2. Masclet, D. & Noussair, C. & Tucker, S. & Villeval, M.C., 2001. "Monetary and Non-monetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1141, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  3. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 1999. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 183, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-377951 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2003. "Altruistic Punishment in Humans," Microeconomics 0305006, EconWPA.
  6. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  7. R. Isaac & James Walker & Susan Thomas, 1984. "Divergent evidence on free riding: An experimental examination of possible explanations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 113-149, January.
  8. Carpenter, Jeffrey P., 2007. "The demand for punishment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 522-542, April.
  9. Colin F. Camerer & Richard H. Thaler, 1995. "Anomalies: Ultimatums, Dictators and Manners," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 209-219, Spring.
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