Strategic Behavior and the Environment > Vol 9 > Issue 1-2

Inequality and Peer Punishment in a Common-Pool Resource Experiment

Lawrence R. De Geest, Department of Economics, Suffolk University, USA, , David C. Kingsley, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA,
Suggested Citation
Lawrence R. De Geest and David C. Kingsley (2021), "Inequality and Peer Punishment in a Common-Pool Resource Experiment", Strategic Behavior and the Environment: Vol. 9: No. 1-2, pp 1-26.

Publication Date: 19 Jul 2021
© 2021 L. R. De Geest and D. C. Kingsley
Environmental Economics
JEL Codes: C92H41D82
Inequalitycommon-pool resourcescooperationpeer punishment


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In this article:
Experiment Design and Methods 


We test the effect of inequality on peer punishment in a common-pool resource (CPR) experiment with equal endowments (Equal) or unequal endowments (Unequal). Peer punishment reduces extractions in both treatments, but it is more effective in Unequal. Subjects with lower endowments coordinated around an Equal Earnings norm, subjects with higher endowments matched, and peer punishment tightened this coordinate-and-match dynamic. By contrast, there was less coordination in Equal, and as a result, more peer punishment and lower payoffs.