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Report on “Recent topics in experimental political economy”

This special lecture was held online on ZOOM because of COVID-19. Many graduate students attended this lecture in spite of no credits.

The main topic of the lecture was what enhances people’s cooperation in social dilemma experiments. In each lecture, 3 or 4 related papers of experimental economics were introduced and explained thoroughly. Especially, Prof. Kamei picked up very recent research articles and showed new experimental methods and concepts. It contained repeated supergame and democracy premium The average number of attendance was 13.

Participants consisted of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty members from Waseda University and other universities. The lecture covered the following topics:

Topic 1: Peer to peer punishment (Lecture 1, October 21)

In the first lecture, the participants studied some stylized evidence from previous numerous public goods experiments on cooperation. Then, they studied how peer to peer or informal punishment improves cooperation in social dilemma. There was a particular focus on the role of higher order punishment in sustaining cooperation. The participants also learned uninvolved third party’s norm enforcement behavior. Related to this, they additionally studied a possible group size paradox for the case of third party punishment.

Topic 2: Endogenous monitoring and cooperation (Lectures 2 and 3)

A decentralized mechanism alternative to informal punishment to improve cooperation is through endogenous monitoring of peers’ behaviors and/or the potential with whom one deals. The participants studied two forms of endogenous monitoring and its impact of information in the experimental literature, and the effectiveness of endogenous partner selection as follows:

Lecture 2: Gossiping (October 28)

Endogenous monitoring required reputational information. One form of information transmission is costly reporting or gossiping. However, gossiping is not cost-free since it requires, for example, time. Who engages in costly gossiping? What is the impact of gossiped information? The participants answered this question based on recent experimental work in one-shot interactions and in indefinitely repeated interactions.

Lecture 3: Voluntary information disclosure and partner choice (November 4)

Another way to create reputational information is to disclose their past behaviors or identity to distinguish themselves from others. The participants studied the impact of voluntary information disclosure. They also studied the role of partner choices in improving cooperation. The availability of reputational information enables agents to choose with whom one deals, which leads to competition for trustworthy partners) and disciplines people’s cooperation behaviors. Is their reputation building behavior different when their reputation slate can be wiped clean? They also studied the so-called “repeated supergame design” in the experiment.

Topic 3: Changing incentives by institutional formation (Lectures 4 and 5)

The mechanism other than the decentralized ones listed in Topics 1 and 2 is to change the game structure by letting members select institutions prevailed in their group. The participants studied two key topics in this area as follows:

Lecture 4: Impact of Voting (November 11)

Rules to induce pro-social behavior are known to have a stronger effect when implemented democratically than when imposed from above. The participants studied the so-called the democracy premium in the experimental literature.

Lecture 5: Endogenous institutional choices (November 18)

Any cooperation problem could be resolved if incentives are altered so that private interests are aligned with public interests. But, given an option to vote, how do people collectively select rules? Are their behaviors consistent with what standard game theory predict? The participants studied recent advancement in endogenous institutional formation.

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