We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Research & business

View Profile

Publication details

Kamei, K., Putterman, L. & Tyran, J.R. (2015). State or nature? Endogenous formal versus informal sanctions in the voluntary provision of public goods. Experimental Economics 18(1): 38-65.

Author(s) from Durham


We investigate the endogenous formation of sanctioning institutions supposed to improve efficiency in the voluntary provision of public goods. Our paper parallels Markussen et al. (Rev Econ Stud 81:301–324, 2014) in that our experimental subjects vote over formal versus informal sanctions, but it goes beyond that paper by endogenizing the formal sanction scheme. We find that self-determined formal sanctions schemes are popular and efficient when they carry no up-front cost, but as in Markussen et al. informal sanctions are more popular and efficient than formal sanctions when adopting the latter entails such a cost. Practice improves the performance of sanction schemes: they become more targeted and deterrent with learning. Voters’ characteristics, including their tendency to engage in perverse informal sanctioning, help to predict individual voting.