Inherited Institutions: Cooperation in the Light of Democratic Legitimacy

  • Langenbach P
  • Tausch F
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We experimentally investigate whether the procedural history of a sanctioning institution affects cooperation in a social dilemma. Subjects inherit the institutional setting from a previous generation of subjects who either decided on the implementation of the institution democratically by majority vote or were exogenously assigned a setting. In order to isolate the impact of the voting procedure, no information about the cooperation history is provided. In line with existing empirical evidence, we observe that in the starting generation cooperation is higher (lower) with a democratically chosen (rejected) institution, as compared to the corresponding, randomly imposed setting. In the second generation, we find no positive effect of the democratic procedural history on cooperation when the institution is implemented. Yet, the vote-based rejection of the institution leads to (marginally) less cooperation in the second generation.




Langenbach, P., & Tausch, F. (2019). Inherited Institutions: Cooperation in the Light of Democratic Legitimacy. The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 35(2), 364–393.

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