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Recently economists have become interested in why people who face social dilemmas in the experimental lab use the seemingly incredible threat of punishment to deter free riding. Three theories have evolved to explain punishment. We survey each theory and se behavioral data from surveys and experiments to show that the theory called social reciprocity in which people punish norm violators indiscriminately explains punishment best. We also show that social reciprocity can evolve in a population of free riders and contributors if the initial conditions are favorable.

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