Who Cooperates?: Strategy Types and Reciprocal Behavior in Mass Populations
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Publisher:Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies
Series/Report no.:Mershon Center for International Security Studies. Globalization Speaker Series
Cooperation in public goods problems shapes the functioning and long-term fate of political and economic systems. We investigate the determinants of cooperative behavior and individuals' strategy types in mass populations. We fielded large-scale representative surveys in four industrially advanced countries (France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and included a public goods game that provides us with behavioral measures of cooperation. We find that socio-demographic factors, such as age, income, or education, largely fail to predict individual contributions but that expectations about the contributions of others are strong predictors of one's own contribution. We provide experimental evidence that the relationship between the expected contribution of others and own contributions is causal. We also show that the effect of expectations crucially depends on the strategies individuals employ and that these strategy types are not uniformly distributed across socio-demographic groups. These results help explain the varying success of groups within and across societies in realizing collective action and improve our ability to design institutions for solving domestic and global cooperation problems.
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Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies.