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Are People Conditionally Cooperative? Evidence from a Public Goods Experiment

Urs Fischbacher, Simon Gaechter and Ernst Fehr ()
Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Simon Gächter ()

No 16, IEW - Working Papers from Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich

Abstract: We investigate to what extent contribution decisions to a public good depend on the contributions of others. We employ a novel experimental technique that allows us to elicit people's willingness to be conditionally cooperative, i.e., to contribute more to the public good the more the other beneficiaries contribute. We find that about a third of subjects' contribution schedules is characterized by complete free-riding. However, a majority of 50 percent of the subjects displays conditional cooperation. Our results can explain why in most repeated public goods experiments subjects initially cooperate while towards the final periods cooperation declines to very low levels.

Keywords: voluntary contributions; conditional cooperation; free riding; strategy-method; experiments (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H41 D64 D74 C91 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp, nep-ind, nep-pbe and nep-pub
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Journal Article: Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment (2001) Downloads
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