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Sustaining cooperation in laboratory public goods experiments: a selective survey of the literature


I survey the literature post Ledyard (Handbook of Experimental Economics, ed. by J. Kagel, A. Roth, Chap. 2, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1995) on three related issues in linear public goods experiments: (1) conditional cooperation; (2) the role of costly monetary punishments in sustaining cooperation and (3) the sustenance of cooperation via means other than such punishments. Many participants in laboratory public goods experiments are “conditional cooperators” whose contributions to the public good are positively correlated with their beliefs about the average group contribution. Conditional cooperators are often able to sustain high contributions to the public good through costly monetary punishment of free-riders but also by other mechanisms such as expressions of disapproval, advice giving and assortative matching.

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Chaudhuri, A. Sustaining cooperation in laboratory public goods experiments: a selective survey of the literature. Exp Econ 14, 47–83 (2011).

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  • Public goods
  • Conditional cooperation
  • Monetary punishments
  • Non-monetary punishments
  • Moral suasion
  • Sorting

JEL Classification

  • C71
  • C91
  • C92