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Cooperation in a risky world

Vincent Théroude and Adam Zylbersztejn

Journal of Public Economic Theory, 2020, vol. 22, issue 2, 388-407

Abstract: We offer a novel investigation of the effect of environmental risk on cooperation in the Voluntary Contribution Mechanism. Our baseline is the standard setting, in which the personal return from the public good is deterministic, homogeneous, and publicly known. Our experimental treatments alter this classic design by making the marginal per capita return from the public good probabilistic. In the homogeneous risk (HomR) treatment, the random draw is made for the whole group, whereas in the heterogeneous risk (HetR) treatment, this happens independently for each group member. Our hypothesis is that different environmental risks may differently affect the ex post payoff inequalities, so that other‐regarding preferences (inequality aversion) may generate higher contributions in HomR than in HetR. Our main result is that the environmental risk does not affect the patterns of cooperation either in the one‐shot or in the finitely repeated version of the game. This suggests that the standard experimental methodology provides a robust and conservative measure of human cooperation.

Date: 2020
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Journal of Public Economic Theory is currently edited by Rabah Amir, Gareth Myles and Myrna Wooders

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