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Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: Causal Evidence of Non-Separability

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  • Marco Faravelli
  • Luca Stanca

Abstract

This paper provides a direct test of the hypothesis that agents' objective functions are non-separable in economic incentives and social preferences. We study experimentally fixed-prize contests using a 2x2 design, varying orthogonally the degree of competition of the incentive mechanism (all-pay auction vs. lottery) and the presence or absence of social returns to bidding (rent seeking vs. public good). The results indicate that either stronger competition or positive social returns have positive main effects on bids. In addition, we find a negative interaction between the all-pay auction mechanism and the public good environment, leading us to reject separability. This finding provides causal evidence that economic incentives may negatively affect pro-social behavior.

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File URL: http://dipeco.economia.unimib.it/repec/pdf/mibwpaper250.pdf
File Function: First version, 2013
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 250.

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Length: 32
Date of creation: Jul 2013
Date of revision: Jul 2013
Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:250

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Keywords: Contests; Public goods; Rent-seeking; Social preferences; Separability; Laboratory experiments;

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References

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  1. Luca Corazzini & Marco Faravelli & Luca Stanca, 2007. "A Prize to Give for: An Experiment on Public Good Funding Mechanisms," Working Papers 108, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 2007.
  2. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  3. Kreps, David M, 1997. "Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Incentives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 359-64, May.
  4. Dechenaux, Emmanuel & Kovenock, Dan & Sheremeta, Roman M., 2012. "A survey of experimental research on contests, all-pay auctions and tournaments," Discussion Papers, Research Professorship & Project "The Future of Fiscal Federalism" SP II 2012-109, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  5. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2005. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," NBER Working Papers 11535, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Davis, Douglas D & Reilly, Robert J, 1998. " Do Too Many Cooks Always Spoil the Stew? An Experimental Analysis of Rent-Seeking and the Role of a Strategic Buyer," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1-2), pages 89-115, April.
  7. Konrad, Kai A., 2009. "Strategy and Dynamics in Contests," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199549603, September.
  8. John Duffy & Alexander Matros, 2011. "All-Pay Auctions vs. Lotteries as Provisional Fixed-Prize Fundraising Mechanisms," Working Papers 448, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2013.
  9. Baye, M.R. & Kovenock, D. & De Vries, C.G., 1991. "The All-Pay Auction With Complete Information," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1007, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  10. Roman M. Sheremeta & William A. Masters & Timothy N. Cason, 2012. "Winner-Take-All and Proportional-Prize Contests: Theory and Experimental Results," Working Papers 12-04, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  11. Andreas Lange & John A. List & Michael K. Price, 2007. "Using Lotteries To Finance Public Goods: Theory And Experimental Evidence," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 48(3), pages 901-927, 08.
  12. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  13. Craig E. Landry & Andreas Lange & John A. List & Michael K. Price & Nicholas G. Rupp, 2006. "Toward an Understanding of the Economics of Charity: Evidence from a Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 747-782, May.
  14. Faravelli, Marco & Stanca, Luca, 2012. "Single versus multiple-prize all-pay auctions to finance public goods: An experimental analysis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 677-688.
  15. Morgan, John & Sefton, Martin, 2000. "Funding Public Goods with Lotteries: Experimental Evidence," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(4), pages 785-810, October.
  16. Richard Cornes & Roger Hartley, 2002. "Asymmetric Contests with General Technologies," Keele Economics Research Papers KERP 2002/22, Centre for Economic Research, Keele University.
  17. Uri Gneezy & Stephan Meier & Pedro Rey-Biel, 2011. "When and Why Incentives (Don't) Work to Modify Behavior," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 191-210, Fall.
  18. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  19. Samuel Bowles & Sandra Polania-Reyes, 2012. "Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: Substitutes or Complements?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(2), pages 368-425, June.
  20. Douglas D. Davis & Laura Razzolini & Robert Reilly & Bart J. Wilson, 2003. "Raising Revenues for Charity: Auctions versus Lotteries," Working Papers 0301, VCU School of Business, Department of Economics.
  21. Jacob K. Goeree & Emiel Maasland & Sander Onderstal & John L. Turner, 2005. "How (Not) to Raise Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(4), pages 897-926, August.
  22. Morgan, John, 2000. "Financing Public Goods by Means of Lotteries," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(4), pages 761-84, October.
  23. Arthur J.H.C. Schram & Sander Onderstal, 2009. "Bidding To Give: An Experimental Comparison Of Auctions For Charity," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(2), pages 431-457, 05.
  24. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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