Simon Gaechter


The Complementarity of Good Institutions and Voluntary Cooperation: Experimental Evidence from 43 Societies (joint with Jonathan Schulz and Christian Thoeni)


Are well-functioning institutions and voluntary cooperation substitutes or complements? In a large-scale experimental data set spanning more than 40 diverse societies, we show that higher levels of voluntary cooperation in public goods games without and with punishment are positively associated with societies' quality of institutions. In further experiments, we provide causal evidence that experiencing well-functioning institutions subsequently increases voluntary cooperation (even in the absence of formal enforcement mechanism). We thus provide evidence that well-functioning institutions are not only important for standard reasons but also have positive spillovers on the “social capital” of societies as reflected in the spontaneous voluntary cooperation of unrelated individuals.

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