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Inequality, communication, and the avoidance of disastrous climate change in a public goods game.

Tavoni, Alessandro and Dannenberg, Astrid and Kallis, Giorgos and Löschel, Andreas (2011) Inequality, communication, and the avoidance of disastrous climate change in a public goods game. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108 (29). pp. 11825-11829. ISSN 1091-6490

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Identification Number: 10.1073/pnas.1102493108


International efforts to provide global public goods often face the challenges of coordinating national contributions and distributing costs equitably in the face of uncertainty, inequality, and free-riding incentives. In an experimental setting, we distribute endowments unequally among a group of people who can reach a fixed target sum through successive money contributions, knowing that if they fail, they will lose all their remaining money with 50% probability. In some treatments, we give players the option to communicate intended contributions. We find that inequality reduces the prospects of reaching the target but that communication increases success dramatically. Successful groups tend to eliminate inequality over the course of the game, with rich players signaling willingness to redistribute early on. Our results suggest that coordination-promoting institutions and early redistribution from richer to poorer nations are both decisive for the avoidance of global calamities, such as disruptive climate change.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2011 National Academy of Sciences.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Research centres and groups > Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2012 16:34
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2014 13:18
Projects: Large-Scale Technological Change
Funders: Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy

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