Do Economists Punish Less?

Jonas Pilgaard Kaiser, Kasper Selmar Pedersen, Alexander Koch

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


A number of studies discuss whether and how economists differ from other disciplines in the amount that they contribute to public goods. We view this debate as incomplete because it neglects the willingness to sanction non-cooperative behavior, which is crucial for maintaining social order and for sustaining the provision of public goods. We study the decision whether to engage in costly punishment of a free rider in a survey-based experiment with 1423 students from seven study areas in the social sciences, as well as medicine at Aarhus University, Denmark. Using a dictator game and a social dilemma game, that captures essential features of the public goods game, we replicate previous findings that economics students give significantly less than students from other disciplines. However, when subjects decide whether or not to punish a free rider, we find that economics students are just as likely to punish as students from other disciplines.
Original languageEnglish
Article number75
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2018


  • Dictator game
  • Economists
  • Experimental economics
  • Norm compliance
  • Public goods game
  • Punishment
  • Social preferences


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