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Searching for Evidence of Alternative Preferences, Public as Opposed to Private

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Author Info

  • Clifford S. Russell

    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

  • Thomas Bue Bjorner

    ()
    (AKF, Denmark)

  • Christopher D. Clark

    (University of South Alabama)

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    Abstract

    Important economic thinkers such as Sen, Arrow and Harsanyi have argued for the existence of multiple preference orderings, allowing individuals to make choices, both when only private welfare is at stake and when the good of some collective is involved. Further, recent literature has shown that the presence of altruistic, as opposed to "private", preferences may have important implications for environmental regulation and the optimal provision of public goods. However, only limited empirical work has been carried out to test for the presence of such preferences. This paper presents an empirical study, done in Denmark and the US, that supports the existence of such preferences. More precisely, the study finds that in both countries expressions of two types of altruistic preferences can be triggered in a predictable, controllable way by small framing changes in a questionnaire. It is suggested that the method used may itself be useful in further studies testing for other varieties of altruism.

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    File URL: http://www.accessecon.com/pubs/VUECON/vu01-w01.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2001
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Vanderbilt University Department of Economics in its series Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers with number 0101.

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    Date of creation: Jan 2001
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0101

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    Web page: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/econ/wparchive/index.html

    Related research

    Keywords: Altruism; commited and sympathestic preferences; framing;

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    References

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    1. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Cooperation in Public-Goods Experiments: Kindness or Confusion?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 891-904, September.
    2. Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
    3. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Privately provided public goods in a large economy: The limits of altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 57-73, February.
    4. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
    5. Olof Johansson-Stenman, 1998. "The Importance of Ethics in Environmental Economics with a Focus on Existence Values," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 11(3), pages 429-442, April.
    6. V. Prasnikar & A. Roth, 1998. "Considerations of fairness and strategy: experimental data from sequential games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 451, David K. Levine.
    7. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309.
    8. Thomas C. Brown & Patricia A. Champ & Richard C. Bishop & Daniel W. McCollum, 1996. "Which Response Format Reveals the Truth about Donations to a Public Good?," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 72(2), pages 152-166.
    9. Hudson, John & Jones, Philip R., 1994. "The importance of the 'ethical voter': An estimate of 'altruism'," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 499-509, October.
    10. Wilfred Beckerman & Joanna Pasek, 1997. "Plural Values and Environmental Valuation," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 6(1), pages 65-86, February.
    11. Gregory, Robin & Lichtenstein, Sarah & Slovic, Paul, 1993. " Valuing Environmental Resources: A Constructive Approach," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 177-97, October.
    12. Russell, Clifford & Dale, Virginia & Lee, Junsoo & Jensen, Molly Hadley & Kane, Michael & Gregory, Robin, 2001. "Experimenting with multi-attribute utility survey methods in a multi-dimensional valuation problem," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 87-108, January.
    13. Ajzen, Icek & Brown, Thomas C. & Rosenthal, Lori H., 1996. "Information Bias in Contingent Valuation: Effects of Personal Relevance, Quality of Information, and Motivational Orientation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 43-57, January.
    14. McConnell, K. E., 1997. "Does Altruism Undermine Existence Value?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 22-37, January.
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    Cited by:
    1. Soderholm, Patrik & Sundqvist, Thomas, 2003. "Pricing environmental externalities in the power sector: ethical limits and implications for social choice," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 333-350, October.

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