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The Value of Private Risk Versus the Value of Public Risk: An Experimental Analysis of the Johannesson et al. Conjecture

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  • Messer, Kent D.
  • Poe, Gregory L.
  • Schulze, William D.

Abstract

In 1996 Johannesson et al. published a paper in this journal entitled “The Value of Private Safety versus the Value of Public Safety.” Based on preliminary evidence from a hypothetical contingent valuation study, these authors argue that consumers behave as “pure altruists” and reject the notion of paternalistic preferences for safety in a coercive tax setting. These pure altruists consider the cost of a program that might be imposed on other voters when they decide whether to vote for or against public safety programs. The authors conclude that further empirical research in this area is warranted. This paper presents a set of laboratory economics experiments to test Johannesson et al.’s conjecture under controlled conditions in which participants face an actual risk of financial loss. The laboratory results extend those of Johannesson et al., providing strong evidence of pure altruism but limited support for paternalistic altruism for risk.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management in its series Working Papers with number 51141.

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Date of creation: 10 Aug 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ags:cudawp:51141

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Related research

Keywords: Altruism; risk; voting; public goods; Research Methods/ Statistical Methods; Risk and Uncertainty; D81; D64; H41; C91; C92; D72;

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References

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  1. Charness, Gary B & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0dc3k4m5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  2. Johannesson, Magnus & Johansson, Per-Olov & O'Conor, Richard M., 1996. "The Value of Private Safety versus the Value of Public Safety," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 103, Stockholm School of Economics.
  3. Jones-Lee, M W, 1991. " Altruism and the Value of Other People's Safety," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 213-19, April.
  4. Flores, Nicholas E., 2002. "Non-paternalistic altruism and welfare economics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 293-305, February.
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  9. Messer, Kent D. & Poe, Gregory L. & Rondeau, Daniel & Schulze, William D. & Vossler, Christian A., 2010. "Social preferences and voting: An exploration using a novel preference revealing mechanism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(3-4), pages 308-317, April.
  10. Thomas P. Holmes, 1990. "Self-Interest, Altruism, and Health-Risk Reduction: An Economic Analysis of Voting Behavior," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 66(2), pages 140-149.
  11. Matthew Rabin., 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Economics Working Papers E00-279, University of California at Berkeley.
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  14. Deacon, Robert T & Shapiro, Perry, 1975. "Private Preference for Collective Goods Revealed Through Voting on Referenda," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(5), pages 943-55, December.
  15. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2005. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects: New Data without Order Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 902-912, June.
  16. Theodore C. Bergstrom, 2004. "Benefit-Cost in a Benevolent Society," Public Economics 0405006, EconWPA.
  17. Jones-Lee, M W, 1992. "Paternalistic Altruism and the Value of Statistical Life," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(410), pages 80-90, January.
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