Voluntary Association in Public Goods Experiments: Reciprocity, Mimicry and Efficiency

22 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2005

See all articles by Talbot Page

Talbot Page

Brown University - Department of Economics

Louis Putterman

Brown University - Department of Economics

Bulent Unel

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

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Abstract

We find that a process of voluntary association where individuals express a preference about whom they want to be associated with can create strong incentives to increase efficiency and contributions in provision of a public good. This process of endogenous group formation perfectly sorted contributions by the order of group formation. Comparison of middle and last period behaviour suggests that a majority of the subject population are conditional cooperators, with a minority of monetary payoff maximisers. The experiment illustrates that under favourable conditions, where the opportunities of entry and exit are symmetrically balanced, a process of voluntary association can mitigate the free-rider problem.

Suggested Citation

Page, Talbot and Putterman, Louis G. and Unel, Bulent, Voluntary Association in Public Goods Experiments: Reciprocity, Mimicry and Efficiency. Economic Journal, Vol. 115, No. 506, pp. 1032-1053, October 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=856700 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0297.2005.01031.x

Talbot Page (Contact Author)

Brown University - Department of Economics ( email )

64 Waterman Street
Providence, RI 02912
United States
401-863-1988 (Phone)
401-863-1970 (Fax)

Louis G. Putterman

Brown University - Department of Economics ( email )

Box B
Providence, RI 02912
United States
401-863-3837 (Phone)
401-863-1970 (Fax)

Bulent Unel

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge ( email )

Department of Economics
2134 Patrick F. Taylor Hall
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
United States

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