Polarization and Group Cooperation

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See all articles by Andrea Robbett

Andrea Robbett

Middlebury College - Department of Economics

Peter Hans Matthews

Middlebury College - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 21, 2021

Abstract

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

Robbett, Andrea and Matthews, Peter Hans, Polarization and Group Cooperation (January 21, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3770834

Andrea Robbett (Contact Author)

Middlebury College - Department of Economics ( email )

Middlebury, VT 05753
United States

Peter Hans Matthews

Middlebury College - Department of Economics ( email )

Munroe Hall
Middlebury, VT 05753
United States
802 443-5591 (Phone)
802 443-2084 (Fax)

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