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Threat and Punishment in Public Good Experiments

David Masclet (), Charles Noussair and Marie Claire Villeval ()

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Abstract: Experimental studies of social dilemmas have shown that while the existence of a sanctioning institution improves cooperation within groups, it also has a detrimental impact on group earnings in the short-run. Could the introduction of pre-play threats to punish have enough of a beneficial impact on cooperation, while not incurring the cost associated with actual punishment, so that they increase overall welfare ? We report an experiment in which players can issue non-binding threats to punish others based on their contribution levels to a public good. After observing others' actual contributions, they choose their actual punishment level. We find that threats increase the level of contributions significantly. Efficiency is improved, but only in the long run. However, the possibility of sanctioning differences between threatened and actual punishment leads to lower threats, cooperation and welfare, restoring them to levels equal to or below the levels attained in the absence of threats.

Keywords: Threats; cheap talk; sanctions; public good; experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2010
Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00522655
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Published in Working paper GATE 2010-19 ; CIRANO Scientific Publication 2011s-08 ; IZA Discussion paper 5206. 2010

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Related works:
Journal Article: THREAT AND PUNISHMENT IN PUBLIC GOOD EXPERIMENTS (2013) Downloads
Working Paper: Threat and Punishment in Public Good Experiments (2013)
Working Paper: Threat and Punishment in Public Good Experiments (2011) Downloads
Working Paper: Threat and Punishment in Public Good Experiments (2010) Downloads
Working Paper: Threat and punishment in public good experiments (2010)
Working Paper: Threat and punishment in public good experiments (2010)
Working Paper: Threat and Punishment in Public Good Experiments (2010) Downloads
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