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Heterogeneity and the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods

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  • Kenneth Chan
  • Stuart Mestelman

    ()

  • Robert Moir
  • R. Muller

Abstract

We investigate the effects of heterogeneity and incomplete information on aggregate contributions to a public good using the voluntary contribution mechanism. The non-linear laboratory environment has three-person groups as partners under varying conditions of information and communication. Bergstrom, Blum and Varian predict that increasing heterogeneity will have no effect on aggregate contributions in a no-communication environment. Ledyard conjectures a positive effect of incomplete information, a negative effect of heterogeneity, and a positive interaction of heterogeneity and incomplete information. We find that incomplete information has a small but significant negative effect. Heterogeneity has a positive effect on aggregate contributions, but its effects interact unexpectedly with communication. In a no-communication environment, heterogeneity in two dimensions (endowment and preferences) increases contributions substantially while heterogeneity in a single dimension (endowment or preferences) has little effect. In the communication environment we find the reverse. We also find a positive interaction between heterogeneity and incomplete information. Thus we reject the Bergstrom, Blume and Varian invariance result and provide mixed evidence on Ledyard's conjectures. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Experimental Economics.

Volume (Year): 2 (1999)
Issue (Month): 1 (August)
Pages: 5-30

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Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:2:y:1999:i:1:p:5-30

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=102888

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Keywords: public goods; voluntary provision; heterogeneous agents;

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  1. Hackett Steven & Schlager Edella & Walker James, 1994. "The Role of Communication in Resolving Commons Dilemmas: Experimental Evidence with Heterogeneous Appropriators," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 99-126, September.
  2. Pranab Bardhan, 1993. "Symposium on Management of Local Commons," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 87-92, Fall.
  3. Isaac, R Mark & Walker, James M, 1988. "Communication and Free-Riding Behavior: The Voluntary Contribution Mechanism," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 585-608, October.
  4. Robert Moir, 1998. "A Monte Carlo Analysis of the Fisher Randomization Technique: Reviving Randomization for Experimental Economists," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 87-100, June.
  5. Bagnoli, Mark & McKee, Michael, 1991. "Voluntary Contribution Games: Efficient Private Provision of Public Goods," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(2), pages 351-66, April.
  6. Kenneth S. Chan & Stuart Mestelman & R. Andrew Muller, 1998. "Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," McMaster Experimental Economics Laboratory Publications 1998-02, McMaster University.
  7. Andrew Muller & Michelle Vickers, 1996. "Communication in a Common Pool Resource Environment with Probabilistic Destruction," Department of Economics Working Papers 1996-02, McMaster University.
  8. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
  9. Kanbur, Ravi, 1992. "Heterogeneity, distribution, and cooperation in common property resource management," Policy Research Working Paper Series 844, The World Bank.
  10. Chan, Kenneth S. & Godby, Rob & Mestelman, Stuart & Andrew Muller, R., 2002. "Crowding-out voluntary contributions to public goods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 305-317, July.
  11. Rapoport, Amnon & Suleiman, Ramzi, 1993. "Incremental Contribution in Step-Level Public Goods Games with Asymmetric Players," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 171-194, July.
  12. Andreoni, James, 1993. "An Experimental Test of the Public-Goods Crowding-Out Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1317-27, December.
  13. Chan, Kenneth S. & Godby, Rob & Mestelman, Stuart & Muller, R. Andrew, 1997. "Equity theory and the voluntary provision of public goods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 349-364, March.
  14. Walker, James M. & Gardner, Roy & Ostrom, Elinor, 1990. "Rent dissipation in a limited-access common-pool resource: Experimental evidence," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 203-211, November.
  15. Kenneth S. Chan & Stuart Mestelman & Rob Moir & R. Andrew Muller Moir, 1996. "The Voluntary Provision of Public Goods under Varying Income Distributions," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(1), pages 54-69, February.
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