How Do Public Goods Providers Play Public Goods Games?


Daniel M. Butler and Thad Kousser

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Butler, D. M. and Kousser, T. (2015), How Do Public Goods Providers Play Public Goods Games?. Legislative Studies Quarterly, 40: 211–240. doi:10.1111/lsq.12073
We study how policymakers play public goods games, and how their behavior compares to the typical subjects we study, by conducting parallel experiments on college undergraduates and American state legislators. We find that the legislators play public goods games more cooperatively and more consistently than the undergraduates. Legislators are also less responsive to treatments that involve social elements but are more likely to respond to additional information that they receive. Further, legislators' fixed characteristics explain much of the variation in how legislators play the game. We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding how institutions affect the provision of public goods.
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