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Providing Global Public Goods: Electoral Delegation and Cooperation


Tan,  Fangfang
Public Economics, MPI for Tax Law and Public Finance, Max Planck Society;

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Kocher, M. G., Tan, F., & Yu, J. (2014). Providing Global Public Goods: Electoral Delegation and Cooperation. Working Paper of the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance, No. 2014-12.

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This paper experimentally examines the effect of electoral delegation on providing global public goods shared by several groups. Each group elects a delegate who can freely decide on each group member’s contribution to the global public good. Our results show that people mostly vote for delegates who assign equal contributions for every group member. However, in contrast to standard theoretical predictions, unequal contributions across groups drive cooperation down over time, and it decreases efficiency by almost 50% compared to the benchmark. This pattern is not driven by delegates trying to exploit their fellow group members, as indicated by the theory – quite to the opposite, other-regarding preferences and a re-election incentives guarantee that delegates assign equal contributions for all group members. It is driven by conditional cooperation of delegates across groups. Since the source of the resulting inefficiency is the polycentric nature of global public goods provision together with other-regarding preferences, we use the term Pinefficiency to describe our finding.