Just How Cooperative are Kibbutz Members? Field Experiments on Israeli Kibbutzim and in Israeli Cities
29 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2002
Date Written: May 2002
Unlike individuals living in capitalist economies, members of collective societies depend on mutual cooperation to achieve their economic goals. We study the cooperative behavior of one of the most successful and best-known modern collective societies, the Israeli kibbutz. The facts that kibbutz members have voluntarily chosen their lifestyle of cooperation and egalitarianism, the ease with which they could join the surrounding capitalist society, their disproportionate involvement in social and national causes and their revealed willingness to sacrifice for the benefit of Israeli society as a whole suggest that if ever there was a society of individuals whose cooperativeness extends equally to members and non-members, the kibbutz is it. Nonetheless, the findings from our field experiments indicate that kibbutz members display higher levels of cooperation when paired with other, anonymous kibbutz members than when paired with city residents. In fact, when paired with city residents, kibbutz members' observed levels of cooperation are identical to those displayed by the city residents. Moreover, we present evidence that kibbutz socialization actually damages the willingness of members to cooperate with one another.
Keywords: cooperation, field experiment, kibbutz, in-group-out-group bias, self-selection, socialization
JEL Classification: C72, C93, P32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation