Journal of Experimental Political Science, Forthcoming
43 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2014 Last revised: 3 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 2, 2016
When do societies succeed to provide public goods? Previous research emphasizes that cooperation in public goods games correlates positively with expectations about cooperation by others among students and other demographic subgroups. However, we still lack knowledge about whether the effect of expected cooperation is causal and a general feature of populations. We fielded representative surveys (N=8,500) in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States that included a public goods game in combination with a novel between-subjects experiment. We find that higher expected cooperation by others causes a significant increase in individual contributions. When classifying individuals' contribution schedules we find that almost 50% of the population employs a positively reciprocal strategy. These individuals are richer, younger and more educated. Our results help explain the varying success of societal groups in overcoming collective action problems and may assist policymakers in the design of political institutions meant to solve social dilemmas.
Keywords: public goods, cooperation, reciprocity, social dilemmas, respresentative samples, survey experiments, causal effects
JEL Classification: H41, C72, C42, C99
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Bechtel, Michael M. and Scheve, Kenneth, Public Goods and the Causal Effect of Expected Cooperation in Representative Samples (March 2, 2016). Journal of Experimental Political Science, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2419678 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2419678