Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-19-2018

Abstract

We show that monetary exchange facilitates the transition from small to large-scale economic interactions. In an experiment, subjects chose to play an “intertemporal cooperation game” either in partnerships or in groups of strangers where payoffs could be higher. Theoretically, a norm of mutual support is sufficient to maximize efficiency through large-scale cooperation. Empirically, absent a monetary system, participants were reluctant to interact on a large scale; and when they did, efficiency plummeted compared to partnerships because cooperation collapsed. This failure was reversed only when a stable monetary system endogenously emerged: the institution of money mitigated strategic uncertainty problems.

Comments

Working Paper 18-05

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