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An economic model of moral motivation

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  • Brekke, Kjell Arne
  • Kverndokk, Snorre
  • Nyborg, Karine

Abstract

In this paper, we present an economic model of moral motivation. Consumers prefer regarding themselves as socially responsible individuals. Voluntary contributions to public goods are motivated by this preference. The self-image as socially responsible is determined by a comparison of one's actual behavior against an endogenous moral ideal. Public policy influences voluntary contributions through its effects on relative prices and budget or time constraints, but also indirectly through the policy's effect on the moral ideal. This implies that economic incentives may have adverse effects on contributions. We present survey data on recycling behavior and voluntary community work, which is consistent with the model predictions.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 87 (2003)
Issue (Month): 9-10 (September)
Pages: 1967-1983

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:87:y:2003:i:9-10:p:1967-1983

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. 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.
  2. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1986. "On the Voluntary and Involuntary Provision of Public Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 789-93, September.
  3. Kjell Arne Brekke & Richard B. Howarth, 2000. "The Social Contingency of Wants," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 76(4), pages 493-503.
  4. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  5. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  6. Lindbeck, Assar, 1997. "Incentives and Social Norms in Household Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 370-77, May.
  7. Kjell Arne Brekke & Snorre Kverndokk & Karinen Nyborg, 2000. "An Economic Model of Moral Motivation," Discussion Papers 290, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
  8. Nyborg, Karine, 2000. "Homo Economicus and Homo Politicus: interpretation and aggregation of environmental values," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 305-322, July.
  9. Bruno S. Frey & Reto Jegen, 2000. "Motivation Crowding Theory: A Survey of Empirical Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 245, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Sugden, Robert, 1984. "Reciprocity: The Supply of Public Goods through Voluntary Contributions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376), pages 772-87, December.
  11. Gneezy, Uri & Rustichini, Aldo, 2000. "A Fine is a Price," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 1-17, January.
  12. Karine Nyborg & Mari Rege, 2000. "The Evolution of Considerate Smoking Behavior," Discussion Papers 279, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
  13. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Privately provided public goods in a large economy: The limits of altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 57-73, February.
  14. Hollander, Heinz, 1990. "A Social Exchange Approach to Voluntary Cooperation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1157-67, December.
  15. Frey, Bruno S & Oberholzer-Gee, Felix, 1997. "The Cost of Price Incentives: An Empirical Analysis of Motivation Crowding-Out," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 746-55, September.
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