Volunteering a Public Service: An Experimental Investigation
AbstractIn some public goods environments it may be advantageous for heterogeneous groups to be coordinated by a single individual. This “volunteer” will bear private costs for acting as the leader while enabling each member of the group to achieve maximum potential gains. This environment is modeled as a War of Attrition game in which everyone can wait for someone else to volunteer. Since these games generally have multiple Nash equilibria but a unique subgameperfect equilibrium, we tested experimentally the predictive power of the subgame-perfection criterion. Our data contradict that subjects saw the subgame-perfect strategy combination as the obvious way to play the game. An alternative behavioral hypothesis – that subjects were unable to predict accurately how their opponents would play and tried to maximize their expected payoff – is proposed. This hypothesis fits the observed data generally well.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by McMaster University in its series Department of Economics Working Papers with number 2001-05.
Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: May 2001
Date of revision:
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Other versions of this item:
- Bilodeau, Marc & Childs, Jason & Mestelman, Stuart, 2004. "Volunteering a public service: an experimental investigation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2839-2855, December.
- H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
- C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
- C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2002-04-03 (All new papers)
- NEP-CDM-2002-04-03 (Collective Decision-Making)
- NEP-EXP-2002-04-03 (Experimental Economics)
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