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Social Preferences, Beliefs, and the Dynamics of Free Riding in Public Good Experiments

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  • Urs Fischbacher

    ()
    (University of Konstanz)

  • Simon Gaechter

    ()
    (University of Nottingham)

Abstract

One lingering puzzle is why voluntary contributions to public goods decline over time in experimental and real-world settings. We show that the decline of cooperation is driven by individual preferences for imperfect conditional cooperation. Many people’s desire to contribute less than others, rather than changing beliefs of what others will contribute over time or people’s heterogeneity in preferences makes voluntary cooperation fragile. Universal free riding thus eventually emerges, despite the fact that most people are not selfish.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham in its series Discussion Papers with number 2009-04.

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Date of creation: Jan 2009
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Handle: RePEc:not:notcdx:2009-04

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Keywords: Public goods experiments; social preferences; conditional cooperation; free riding;

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