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Searching for evidence of alternative preferences, public as opposed to private

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  • Russell, Clifford S.
  • Bjorner, Thomas Bue
  • Clark, Christopher D.

Abstract

Important economic thinkers such as Sen, Arrow and Harsanyi have argued for the existence of multiple preference orderings, allowing individuals to make choices, both when only private welfare is at stake and when the good of some collective is involved. Further, recent literature has shown that the presence of altruistic, as opposed to "private", preferences may have important implications for environmental regulation and the optimal provision of public goods. However, only limited empirical work has been carried out to test for the presence of such preferences. This paper presents an empirical study, done in Denmark and the US, that supports the existence of such preferences. More precisely, the study finds that in both countries expressions of two types of altruistic preferences can be triggered in a predictable, controllable way by small framing changes in a questionnaire. It is suggested that the method used may itself be useful in further studies testing for other varieties of altruism.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 51 (2003)
Issue (Month): 1 (May)
Pages: 1-27

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:51:y:2003:i:1:p:1-27

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  1. Olof Johansson-Stenman, 1998. "The Importance of Ethics in Environmental Economics with a Focus on Existence Values," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 11(3), pages 429-442, April.
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  8. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309.
  9. McConnell, K. E., 1997. "Does Altruism Undermine Existence Value?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 22-37, January.
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  11. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Cooperation in Public-Goods Experiments: Kindness or Confusion?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 891-904, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Soderholm, Patrik & Sundqvist, Thomas, 2003. "Pricing environmental externalities in the power sector: ethical limits and implications for social choice," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 333-350, October.
  2. Alvarez-Farizo, Begona & Hanley, Nick & Barberan, Ramon & Lazaro, Angelina, 2007. "Choice modeling at the "market stall": Individual versus collective interest in environmental valuation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(4), pages 743-751, February.
  3. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2008. "Full title Does Context Matter More for Hypothetical Than for Actual Contributions? Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment," Discussion Papers dp-08-02-efd, Resources For the Future.
  4. Ito, Nobuyuki & Takeuchi, Kenji & Kuriyama, Koichi & Shoji, Yasushi & Tsuge, Takahiro & Mitani, Yohei, 2009. "The influence of decision-making rules on individual preferences for ecological restoration: Evidence from an experimental survey," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(8-9), pages 2426-2431, June.
  5. Johansson-Stenman , Olof & Svedsäter, Henrik, 2003. "Self Image And Choice Experiments: Hypothetical And Actual Willingness To Pay," Working Papers in Economics 94, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  6. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2007. "Does context matter more for hypothetical than for actual contributions? Evidence from a natural field experiment," Working Papers in Economics 251, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.

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