Punishment and counter-punishment in public good games: Can we really govern ourselves?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A number of experimental studies have shown that the opportunity to punish anti-social behavior increases cooperation levels when agents face a social dilemma. Using a public good experiment, I show that in the presence of counter-punishment opportunities cooperators are less willing to punish free riders. As a result, cooperation breaks down and groups have lower earnings in comparison to a treatment without punishments where free riding is predominant. Approximately one quarter of all punishments are retaliated. Counter-punishments appear to be driven partly by strategic considerations and partly by a desire to reciprocate punishments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-112
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Public Economics
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2008



  • Counter-punishment
  • Decentralized punishment
  • Experimental economics
  • Public goods
  • Revenge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics

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