Polarization and Group Cooperation
29 Pages Posted:
Date Written: January 21, 2021
Does increased partisanship undermine the ability of politically heterogeneous groups to function and cooperate in apolitical settings? On the eve of the 2020 U.S. elections, we conducted an online experiment in which Democrats and Republicans played repeated public goods games, both with and without punishment. Absent punishment, mixed party groups are less cooperative and efficient than homogeneous groups. However, polarized groups do no worse than those in which political affiliations are unknown. We find no differences in cooperation across groups that are able to punish free-riding behavior. Thus, knowing that one is in a group with likeminded individuals can serve as a substitute for an enforcement mechanism, but polarized groups can, at some efficiency cost, achieve similar contributions when sanctions are possible.
Keywords: Social dilemmas, political polarization, public goods, cooperation, experimental economics
JEL Classification: C72, D9, H41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation