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This paper studies public good provision in the laboratory using the voluntary contribution mechanism, in a cross-cultural experiment conducted in the United States and Japan. Our environment differs from the standard voluntary contribution mechanism because in one treatment, subjects first decide whether or not to participate in providing this public good. This participation decision is conveyed to the other subject prior to the subjects' contribution decisions. We find that only the American data support the evolutionary stable strategy Nash equilibrium predicitons, and that behavior is significantly different across countries. Japanese subjects are more likely to act spitefully in the early periods of the experiment, even though our design changes subject pairings each period so that subjects never interact twice with the same opponent. Surprisingly, this spiteful behavior eventually leads to more efficient public good contributions for Japanese subjects than for American subjects.
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