Cooperative Sharing and Costly Punishment across Ethnic Lines: Experimental Evidence from the Kenya-Tanzania Border

1 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2012 Last revised: 27 Aug 2012

See all articles by Sangick Jeon

Sangick Jeon

Stanford University - Department of Political Science

Tim Johnson

Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University

Amanda Robinson

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

We conduct a behavioral economics experiment designed to address two puzzles in the study of interethnic cooperation: (1) does the punishment of norm-violators vary across and within ethnic groups, and (2) how effective are unifying superordinate identities at alleviating the tensions often associated with ascriptive group differences? We address these puzzles using a combination of dictator and random income games with costly third-party punishment. In those experiments, participants are informed about each other’s group affiliations, thus allowing us to examine how ethnic identities shape egalitarian and altruistic motives. Furthermore, we perform experiments on each side of the Kenya-Tanzania border, thus allowing us to assess whether superordinate national identities moderate cleavages among ethnic groups. Findings from our study show that — across national contexts — individuals spend resources both to sanction norm violations and to level inequalities. Ethnic affiliation, however, has little impact on sanctioning decisions, but — in Kenya — it appears to influence sharing decisions: out-group members share resources more readily when the recipient of their giving possesses the same ethnic affiliation as the third-party punisher. These findings provide a foundation for future investigations of inter-ethnic cooperation.

Keywords: ethnicity, nationalism, third-party punishment, behavioral economics

Suggested Citation

Jeon, Sangick and Johnson, Tim and Robinson, Amanda, Cooperative Sharing and Costly Punishment across Ethnic Lines: Experimental Evidence from the Kenya-Tanzania Border (2012). APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2106328

Sangick Jeon (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Political Science ( email )

616 Serra Street
Encina Hall West, Suite 100
Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Tim Johnson

Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University ( email )

900 State Street
Salem, OR 97301
United States

Amanda Robinson

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science ( email )

Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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