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Poverty in Dictator Games: Awakening Solidarity

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This paper investigates the effect of poverty and good intentions on dictator game giving. Previous experimental studies in which information was supplied to dictators about recipients have shown that dictator giving increases overall in this context. We develop a new design of standard informed dictator games with three main variants: 1) three recipients are used instead of one; 2) dictators are informed that their recipients are poor; 3) dictators give donations in the form of medicines instead of money. We have found that 46% of the experimental subjects (dictators) give the full amount of money (100% of the endowment) in the “poverty” treatment, while in the “medicines” treatment this percentage increases to 72%. Such extremely generous behavior has seldom been observed in the previous literature on dictator games.

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Paper provided by Centro de Estudios Andaluces in its series Economic Working Papers at Centro de Estudios Andaluces with number E2003/50.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cea:doctra:e2003_50

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Keywords: dictator giving; poverty effect; good intentions effect; medicines.;

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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. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  3. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
  4. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
  5. Fernado Aguiar & Pablo Brañas-Garza, 2005. "The limits of Consequentialism: An experimental approach," ThE Papers 05/17, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
  6. Burnham, Terence C., 2003. "Engineering altruism: a theoretical and experimental investigation of anonymity and gift giving," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 133-144, January.
  7. Frohlich, Norman & Oppenheimer, Joe & Bernard Moore, J., 2001. "Some doubts about measuring self-interest using dictator experiments: the costs of anonymity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 271-290, November.
  8. Charness, Gary & Haruvy, Ernan & Sonsino, Doron, 2007. "Social distance and reciprocity: An Internet experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 88-103, May.
  9. Gary E. Bolton & Rami Zwick & Elena Katok, 1998. "Dictator game giving: Rules of fairness versus acts of kindness," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 269-299.
  10. Norman Frohlich & Joe Oppenheimer & Anja Kurki, 2004. "Modeling Other-Regarding Preferences and an Experimental Test," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 119(1_2), pages 91-117, 04.
  11. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
  12. Bruno S. Frey & Iris Bohnet, 1999. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 335-339, March.
  13. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "Altruism in Anonymous Dictator Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 181-191, October.
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