Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 125–138 | Cite as

Paretian dictators: constraining choice in a voluntary contribution game

  • Robert J. Oxoby
Original Paper


We explore individuals’ preferences over limiting the choice sets of others in an environment with externalities. Specifically, we conduct public goods games in which participants can mandate the contributions of others or restrict choices to a subset of feasible contributions levels. We find that, relative to a baseline treatment in which individuals make choices from the set of all contribution alternatives, allowing individuals to constrain the choices of others results in more efficient outcomes. We discuss these results in light of the literature on behavioral theories of reciprocity and conditional cooperation and in regards to the literature on pre-constitutional design, political institutions, and social choice.


Public goods Conditional cooperation Reciprocity Experiments 

JEL Classification

C7 C9 D4 H4 



We thank Robin Boadway, John Boyce, Francisco Gonzalez, Erin Krupka, Michael McKee, Kendra McLeish and John Spraggon for suggestions. Financial support was provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Canadian Institute for Advanced ResearchTorontoCanada

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