Can Efficient Institutions Induce Cooperation Among Low Trust Agents?

QOG THE QUALITY OF GOVERNMENT INSTITUTE WORKING PAPER SERIES 2013:7

25 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2014

See all articles by Pontus Strimling

Pontus Strimling

Stockholm University - Center for the Study of Cultural Evolution

Staffan I. Lindberg

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute; Göteborg University - Department of Political Science

Michael Ehn

Stockholm University - Center for the Study of Cultural Evolution

Kimmo Eriksson

Stockholm University - Center for the Study of Cultural Evolution; Mälardalen University

Bo Rothstein

University of Gothenburg

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

The importance of political institutions for economic growth and social well-being has been demonstrated in a number of studies. Societies in which agents trust that other agents will collaborate in establishing and maintaining efficient institutions produce more social benefits. Yet there is still no solution to the problem known as the social trap, namely how societies can establish efficient institutions when the agents lack social trust. The emerging consensus on Acemoglu & Robinson’s model is supported by observational data but micro-level data produced in controlled circumstances are absent. To shed light on this perennial problem, a set of laboratory experiments were carried with both high and low trust agents. The main result is that when endowed with strong, socially efficient institutions at the outset, even groups of agents with low social trust are capable of using political inclusion to maintain and also to strengthen the socially efficient institutions thereby achieving collectively high-yielding outcomes. These experiments provide the first experimental support for the importance of strong institutions for developing societies.

Suggested Citation

Strimling, Pontus and Lindberg, Staffan I. and Ehn, Michael and Eriksson, Kimmo and Rothstein, Bo, Can Efficient Institutions Induce Cooperation Among Low Trust Agents? (2013). QOG THE QUALITY OF GOVERNMENT INSTITUTE WORKING PAPER SERIES 2013:7. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2376709 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2376709

Pontus Strimling

Stockholm University - Center for the Study of Cultural Evolution ( email )

Stockholm, SE-106 91
Sweden

Staffan I. Lindberg (Contact Author)

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute ( email )

Sprängkullsgatan 19
Gothenburg, Gothenburg 405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se/varianter-pa-demokrati--v-dem-/

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Gothenburg, S-405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se

Michael Ehn

Stockholm University - Center for the Study of Cultural Evolution ( email )

Stockholm
Sweden

Kimmo Eriksson

Stockholm University - Center for the Study of Cultural Evolution ( email )

Stockholm, SE-106 91
Sweden

Mälardalen University ( email )

S-721 23 Vasteras
Sweden

Bo Rothstein

University of Gothenburg ( email )

Box 711
Gothenburg, SE 40530
Sweden
+46317864599 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se/Person.asp?PersonId=82

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