Journal Article

Social Learning and Norms in a Public Goods Experiment with Inter-Generational Advice

Ananish Chaudhuri, Sara Graziano and Pushkar Maitra

in The Review of Economic Studies

Published on behalf of Review of Economic Studies Ltd

Volume 73, issue 2, pages 357-380
Published in print April 2006 | ISSN: 0034-6527
Published online April 2006 | e-ISSN: 1467-937X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-937X.2006.0379.x
Social Learning and Norms in a Public Goods Experiment with Inter-Generational Advice

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  • Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainy
  • Publicly Provided Goods
  • Economic Sociology

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We study a linear public goods game using an inter-generational approach. Subjects in one generation leave advice for the succeeding generation via free-form messages. Such advice can be private knowledge (advice left by one player in generation t is given only to his or her immediate successor in generation t + 1), public knowledge (advice left by players of generation t is made available to all members of generation t + 1), and common knowledge (where the advice is not only public but is also read aloud by the experimenter). Common knowledge of advice generates a process of social learning that leads to high contributions and less free-riding. This behaviour is sustained by advice that is generally exhortative, suggesting high contributions, which in turn creates optimistic beliefs among subjects about others' contributions. We suggest that socially connected communities may achieve high contributions to a public good even in the absence of punishment for norm violators.

Keywords: D83; H41; Z13

Journal Article.  10013 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainy ; Publicly Provided Goods ; Economic Sociology

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