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01-04-2014 | Issue 4/2014

Theory and Decision 4/2014

Inequality aversion and antisocial punishment

Journal:
Theory and Decision > Issue 4/2014
Author:
Christian Thöni

Abstract

Antisocial punishment—punishment of pro-social cooperators—has shown to be detrimental for the efficiency of informal punishment mechanisms in public goods games. The motives behind antisocial punishment acts are not yet well understood. This article shows that inequality aversion predicts antisocial punishment in public goods games with punishment. The model by Fehr and Schmidt (Q J Econ 114(3): 817–868, 1999) allows to derive conditions under which antisocial punishment occurs. With data from three studies on public goods games with punishment I evaluate the predictions. A majority of the observed antisocial punishment acts are not compatible with inequality aversion. These results suggest that the desire to equalize payoffs is not a major determinant of antisocial punishment.

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