Social Choice and Welfare

, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 681–716 | Cite as

Does decentralization of decisions increase the stability of large groups?

  • Tjaša Bjedov
  • Simon LapointeEmail author
  • Thierry Madiès
  • Marie Claire Villeval
Original Paper


Using a laboratory experiment with nested local and global public goods, we analyze the stability of global groups when individuals have the option to separate, according to the degree of decentralization of decision-making. We show that increasing the number of decisions made at the local level within a smaller group reduces the likelihood that individuals vote in favor of a configuration that includes no global good for interacting only within their local group. Voting for such a configuration is more likely when global group members are less cooperative and local group members are more cooperative. Reinforcing local group identity has no impact on votes.



This research was supported by a grant from the University of Fribourg and was performed within the framework of the LABEX CORTEX (ANR-11-LABX-0042) of Université de Lyon, within the program Investissements d’Avenir (ANR-11-IDEX-007) operated by the French National Research Agency (ANR). The authors wish to thank the editor and two anonymous referees for helpful comments and suggestions. The authors are also grateful to Q. Thévenet for programming the experiment, and to P. de Donder, D. Masclet, S. Paty, E. Spolaore and M. Willinger for helpful comments on a previous version. We also benefited from discussions with researchers at the IQSS (Harvard University), and from presentations at seminars at the Universities of Fribourg and Lyon, and at the following conferences: EEA (Lisbon), AFSE (Nice), Journées de Microéconomie Appliquée (Besançon), and PEARL (Santiago de Compostella).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swiss Distance Learning UniversityBrigSwitzerland
  2. 2.VATT Institute for Economic ResearchHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.University of FribourgFribourgSwitzerland
  4. 4.Univ Lyon, CNRS, GATE Lyon St EtienneLYONFrance
  5. 5.IZABonnGermany

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