We report the results of an experiment that investigates free riding in the accumulation of durable public goods. We consider economies with reversibility, where contributions can be positive or negative; and economies with irreversibility, where contributions are nonnegative. Aggregate outcomes support the qualitative predictions of the Markov Perfect Equilibria (MPE) characterized in Battaglini, Nunnari, and Palfrey (2014): steady state levels of public good are lower with reversibility than irreversibility; accumulation is inefficiently slow; and the public good is under-provided in both regimes. On the other hand, public good levels are higher than MPE, and some evidence of history dependence is detected.
"The Dynamic Free Rider Problem: A Laboratory Study."
American Economic Journal: Microeconomics,
Design of Experiments: Laboratory, Individual