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An Experimental Evaluation of Weakest-Link/Best Shot Models of Public Goods

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  • Glenn W. Harrison

    (UCLA)

  • Jack Hirshleifer

    (University of New Mexico)

Abstract

In the supply of public goods, far less free riding actually occurs than traditional theory predicts. As one explanation, the social composition function, which aggregates individual contributions into an available social total, may not always take the standard summation form. Theoretical considerations indicate that free riding should be least for a social composition function of the weakest-link type but greatest for the best-shot type. Using a sequential protocol, the authors' experiments strongly confirm theoretical anticipations under all three types of social composition functions. Even under the more onerous sealed-bid (simultaneous play ) protocol, the experimental subjects are able to make some partial progress toward the theoretical ideal. Copyright 1989 by University of Chicago Press.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series UCLA Economics Working Papers with number 473.

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Date of creation: 01 May 1988
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Handle: RePEc:cla:uclawp:473

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Web page: http://www.econ.ucla.edu/

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  1. Ferejohn, John A. & Forsythe, Robert & Noll, Roger G., . "An Experimental Analysis of Decision-Making Procedures for Discrete Public Goods: A Case Study of a Problem in Institutional Design," Working Papers 155, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  2. Schneider, Friedrich & Pommerehne, Werner W, 1981. "Free Riding and Collective Action: An Experiment in Public Microeconomics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 96(4), pages 689-704, November.
  3. Theodore Groves & John Ledyard, 1976. "Optimal Allocation of Public Goods: A Solution to the 'Free Rider Problem'," Discussion Papers 144, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  4. Martin McGuire, 1974. "Group size, group homo-geneity, and the aggregate provision of a pure public good under cournot behavior," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 107-126, June.
  5. Palfrey, Thomas R. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1984. "Participation and the provision of discrete public goods: a strategic analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 171-193, July.
  6. Peter Bohm, 1984. "Revealing demand for an actual public good," Framed Field Experiments 00129, The Field Experiments Website.
  7. Banks, Jeffrey S. & Plott, Charles R. & Porter, David P., . "An Experimental Analysis of Public Goods Provision Mechanisms with and without Unanimity," Working Papers 595, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  8. Bohm, Peter, 1972. "Estimating demand for public goods: An experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 111-130.
  9. Hirshleifer, Jack, 1987. "Economic Behaviour in Adversity," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226342825.
  10. Peter Bohm, 1972. "Estimating the demand for public goods: An experiment," Framed Field Experiments 00126, The Field Experiments Website.
  11. Marwell, Gerald & Ames, Ruth E., 1981. "Economists free ride, does anyone else? : Experiments on the provision of public goods, IV," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 295-310, June.
  12. Isaac, R. Mark & McCue, Kenneth F. & Plott, Charles R., . "Public Goods Provision in an Experimental Environment," Working Papers 428, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  13. Jack Hirshleifer, 1983. "From weakest-link to best-shot: The voluntary provision of public goods," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 371-386, January.
  14. Green, Jerry & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1977. "Characterization of Satisfactory Mechanisms for the Revelation of Preferences for Public Goods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(2), pages 427-38, March.
  15. Lipnowski, Irwin & Maital, Shlomo, 1983. "Voluntary provision of a pure public good as the game of `chicken'," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 381-386, April.
  16. Smith, Vernon L, 1979. " An Experimental Comparison of Three Public Good Decision Mechanisms," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 81(2), pages 198-215.
  17. Bohm, Peter, 1984. "Revealing demand for an actual public good," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 135-151, July.
  18. Oliver Kim & Mark Walker, 1984. "The free rider problem: Experimental evidence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 3-24, January.
  19. Ferejohn, John A. & Forsythe, Robert & Noll, Roger G. & Palfrey, Thomas R., . "An Experimental Examination of Auction Mechanisms for Discrete Public Goods," Working Papers 262, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  20. Reinhard Selten, 1974. "Reexamination of the Perfectness Concept for Equilibrium Points in Extensive Games," Working Papers 023, Bielefeld University, Center for Mathematical Economics.
  21. Bliss, Christopher & Nalebuff, Barry, 1984. "Dragon-slaying and ballroom dancing: The private supply of a public good," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1-2), pages 1-12, November.
  22. Smith, Vernon L, 1977. "The Principle of Unanimity and Voluntary Consent in Social Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1125-39, December.
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