Asymmetric enforcement of cooperation in a social dilemma

Nikos Nikiforakis, Hans Theo Normann, Brian Wallace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We use a public-good experiment to analyze behavior in a decentralized asymmetric punishment institution. The institution is asymmetric in the sense that players differ in the effectiveness of their punishment. At the aggregate level, we observe remarkable similarities between outcomes in asymmetric and symmetric punishment institutions. Controlling for the average punishment effectiveness of the institutions, we find that asymmetric punishment institutions are as effective in fostering cooperation and are as efficient as symmetric institutions. At the individual level, we find that players with higher punishment effectiveness contribute similar amounts to the public account but have higher earnings and punish more than their weak counterparts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)638-659
Number of pages22
JournalSouthern Economic Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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