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Can second-order punishment deter perverse punishment?


Recent experiments have shown that voluntary punishment of free riders can increase contributions, mitigating the free-rider problem. But frequently punishers punish high contributors, creating “perverse” incentives which can undermine the benefits of voluntary punishment.

In our experiment, allowing punishment of punishing behaviors reduces punishment of high contributors, but gives rise to efficiency-reducing second-order “perverse” punishment. On balance, efficiency and contributions are slightly but not significantly enhanced.

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Correspondence to Louis Putterman.

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JEL Classification C91 · C73 · C41 · D71

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Cinyabuguma, M., Page, T. & Putterman, L. Can second-order punishment deter perverse punishment?. Exp Econ 9, 265–279 (2006).

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  • Public goods
  • Collective action
  • Experiment
  • Punishment