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Using Cross-Cultural Experiments to Understand the Dynamics of Global Commons

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Carpenter, Jeffrey; Cárdenas, Juan-Camilo
Conference: Colloquium at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis
Location: Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Conf. Date: March 18, 2002
Date: 2001
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/5127
Sector: Global Commons
Social Organization
Region: North America
South America
Subject(s): global commons
heterogeneity
culture
reciprocity
altruism
nationalism
experimental economics
game theory
cooperation--theory
behavior--comparative analysis
Abstract: "Differences in group affiliation may affect the level of cooperation in commons situations such as complex international negotiations over the preservation of the rainforest. In this example, one might expect individuals from the north to show strong support for conservation because they receive mostly non-extractive benefits from the forest (e.g., clean air). However, locals may act with less restraint for two reasons: (1) much more of the benefits coming from the forest are resources that are extracted, and (2) compounding the first reason, local individuals may resist being told to conserve by outsiders. We design a real-time, cross-cultural common pool resource (CPR) experiment purposely using participants from cultures that derive different benefits from biodiversity (extraction versus conservation) to analyze the effect of group affiliation on cooperative behavior. In addition, we elicit real donations to local and international conservation funds to augment our CPR results. In the CPR environment, we find evidence that group affiliation affects behavior. American students maintain their extraction in the mixed treatment (both Colombian and American participants) compared to homogeneous groups (American only), while Colombian participants extract more in the mixed treatment. We also witness negative reciprocity by exploited subgroups. Here subgroups that extract less in one period (i.e., are exploited) tend to extract more in the future and the magnitude of this adjustment is determined by participant nationality and our treatments. In the donation stage, we show that nationality affects how much participants are willing to donate of their first-stage earnings to a conservation fund. We also examine the possibility that altruistic preferences to donate to a conservation fund are endogenous, in that, they reflect the level of cooperation in the CPR game."

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