Public goods provision and sanctioning in privileged groups

Ernesto Reuben, Arno Riedl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In public-good provision, privileged groups enjoy the advantage that some of their members find it optimal to supply a positive amount of the public good. However, the inherent asymmetric nature of these groups may make the enforcement of cooperative behavior through informal sanctioning harder to accomplish. In this article, the authors experimentally investigate public-good provision in normal and privileged groups with and without decentralized punishment. The authors find that compared to normal groups, privileged groups are relatively ineffective in using costly sanctions to increase everyone's contributions. Punishment is less targeted toward strong free riders, and they exhibit a weaker increase in contributions after being punished. Thus, the authors show that privileged groups are not as privileged as they initially seem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-93
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2009


  • Collective action
  • Cooperation
  • Privileged groups
  • Public goods
  • Punishment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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