Political inequality, centralized sanctioning institutions, and the maintenance of public goods

Han Il Chang, Christopher Dawes, Tim Johnson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Centralized sanctioning institutions cultivate cooperation by eradicating the gains from free-riding. Studies show that electing a community member to operate a centralized sanctioning institution further increases support for the public good. These studies have overlooked an all-too-common attribute of non-laboratory elections: political inequality. In this paper, we replicate those studies and, then, introduce novel experimental treatments that examine how political inequality influences the cooperation-enhancing effect of a democratic election to centralized sanctioning institutions. In our novel treatment conditions, participants receive either a random allotment of votes that they can use to elect a centralized sanctioning authority or an allocation of votes proportional to their earnings in a previously-executed public goods game. We find that political inequalities created via the random allocation of votes do not hinder cooperation, whereas political inequalities created via past game play undermine elected authorities and diminish contributions to the public good from individuals advantaged by political inequality.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalBulletin of Economic Research
    DOIs
    StateAccepted/In press - 2017

    Fingerprint

    Vote
    Authority
    Elections
    Free-riding

    Keywords

    • Cooperation
    • H41
    • Lab experiment
    • Political inequality
    • Public goods game

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Economics and Econometrics

    Cite this

    Political inequality, centralized sanctioning institutions, and the maintenance of public goods. / Chang, Han Il; Dawes, Christopher; Johnson, Tim.

    In: Bulletin of Economic Research, 2017.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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