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The Nature of Voluntary Public Good Contributions: When are They a Warm Glow or a Helping Hand?

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Abstract

"Warm glow" has been proposed as an explanation for public good contributions that exceed traditional theoretical predictions, yet little is known about why and when people exhibit warm glow in some voluntary settings. To investigate these issues, this research develops a model for the ``helping hand" hypothesis as an extension of warm glow. The hypothesis asserts that when an external environment faced by the subject seems not to provide a socially optimal level of the public good (non-incentive compatible), the subject, to some degree, gains utility by undertaking socially responsible behavior (offering a helping hand), and thus she over-contributes. Once the mechanism is established to be incentive compatible, the individual no longer offers a helping hand, but instead concentrates on maximizing her personal payoffs as predicted by the Nash equilibrium. Experimental results support the helping hand hypothesis, and show that contributions depend on the efficiency of the mechanism and not whether it is voluntary. We also find that contributions are positively correlated with an induced value of the public good even when free-riding is a dominant strategy in an non-incentive compatible mechanism. This would suggest that people's social preferences depend on an induced value of the public good and possess an efficiency concern.

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File URL: http://www.iuj.ac.jp/workingpapers/index.cfm?File=EMS_2009_08.pdf
File Function: First version, 2009
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Research Institute, International University of Japan in its series Working Papers with number EMS_2009_08.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iuj:wpaper:ems_2009_08

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Keywords: public goods; voluntary contributions; experimental economics; warm glow;

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  1. Josef Falkinger & Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "A Simple Mechanism for the Efficient Provision of Public Goods - Experimental Evidence," IEW - Working Papers 003, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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  5. Marc WILLINGER & Anthony ZIEGELMEYER, 1999. "Framing and cooperation in public good games: an experiment with an interior solution," Working Papers of BETA 9901, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  6. Keser, Claudia, 1996. "Voluntary contributions to a public good when partial contribution is a dominant strategy," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 359-366, March.
  7. Messer, Kent D. & Poe, Gregory L. & Rondeau, Daniel & Schulze, William D. & Vossler, Christian A., 2006. "Exploring Voting Anomalies Using a Demand Revealing Random Price Voting Mechanism," Working Papers 127062, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  8. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
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  11. 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.
  12. Koenker, Roger W & Bassett, Gilbert, Jr, 1978. "Regression Quantiles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 33-50, January.
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  16. repec:att:wimass:9309 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Cooperation in Public-Goods Experiments: Kindness or Confusion?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 891-904, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Kent D. Messer & James J. Murphy, 2010. "Foreword: Special Issue on Experimental Methods in Environmental, Natural Resource and Agricultural Economics," Working Papers 2010-03, University of Alaska Anchorage, Department of Economics.
  2. Swallow, Stephen K., 2013. "Demand-side Value for Ecosystem Services and Implications for Innovative Markets: Experimental Perspectives on the Possibility of Private Markets for Public Goods," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 42(1), April.

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