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We Are Not Alone: The Impact of Externalities on Public Good Provision

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  • Christoph Engel

    ()
    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods)

  • Bettina Rockenbach

    ()
    (University of Erfurt and Center for empirical research in economics and behavioral science (CEREB))

Abstract

Public good provision is often local and also affects bystanders. Is provision harder if contributions harm bystanders, and is provision easier if outsiders gain a windfall profit? In an experiment we observe that both positive and negative externalities reduce provision levels whenever actors risk falling back behind bystanders. The mere presence of unaffected bystanders already dampens contributions. This behavior seems to result from the interplay of two motives: the desire to realize opportunities for joint gains, and concerns for comparative performance. Individual payoff comparisons to the other actors as well as to individual bystanders drive contributions down.

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Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in its series Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods with number 2009_29.

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Date of creation: Aug 2009
Date of revision: May 2011
Handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2009_29

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Keywords: Public Good; Externality; Conditional Cooperation; Inequity Aversion;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Sarah Jacobson & Jason Delaney, 2012. "The Good of the Few: Reciprocity in the Provision of a Public Bad," Department of Economics Working Papers 2012-02, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  2. Christoph Engel & Lilia Zhurakhovska, 2011. "Oligopoly as a Socially Embedded Dilemma. An Experiment," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2011_01, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  3. Nicholas Wilson, 2012. "Shock to the System: Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV and Child Mortality," Department of Economics Working Papers 2012-03, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Jul 2013.
  4. James Bland & Nikos Nikiforakis, 2013. "Tacit Coordination in Games with Third-Party Externalities," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013_19, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  5. Sven Fischer & Kristoffel Grechenig & Nicolas Meier, 2013. "Cooperation under punishment: Imperfect information destroys it and centralizing punishment does not help," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013_06, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  6. Delaney, Jason & Jacobson, Sarah, 2014. "Those outsiders: How downstream externalities affect public good provision," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 340-352.
  7. Christoph Engel & Lilia Zhurakhovska, 2012. "Harm on an Innocent Outsider as a Lubricant of Cooperation – An Experiment," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2012_02, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  8. Steven J. Humphrey & Elke Renner, 2011. "The social costs of responsibility," Discussion Papers 2011-02, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  9. Rockenbach, Bettina & Wolff, Irenaeus, 2009. "Institution design in social dilemmas: How to design if you must?," MPRA Paper 16922, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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