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Preferences and strategic behavior in public goods games

Abstract : In finitely repeated public goods games, contributions are initially high, and gradually decrease over time. Two main explanations are consistent with this pattern: (i) the population is composed of free-riders, who never contribute, and conditional cooperators, who contribute if others do so as well; (ii) strategic players contribute to sustain mutually beneficial future cooperation, but reduce their contributions as the end of the game approaches. This paper analyzes experimentally these explanations, by manipulating group composition to form homogeneous groups on both the preference and the strategic ability dimensions. Our results highlight the role of strategic ability in sustaining contributions, and suggest that the interaction between the two dimensions also matters: we find that groups that sustain high levels of cooperation are composed of members who share a common inclination toward cooperation and also have the strategic abilities to recognize and reap the benefits of enduring cooperation.
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Submitted on : Friday, January 28, 2022 - 7:41:49 PM
Last modification on : Monday, November 28, 2022 - 5:22:06 PM
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Gilles Grandjean, Mathieu Lefebvre, Marco Mantovani. Preferences and strategic behavior in public goods games. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2022, 195, pp.171-185. ⟨10.1016/j.jebo.2022.01.007⟩. ⟨hal-03547809⟩



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