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Efficiency-Enhancing Signalling in the Samaritan's Dilemma

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Author Info

  • Johan Lagerlof

    (WZB Berlin)

Abstract

Suppose an altruistic person, A, is willing to transfer resources to a second person, B, if B comes upon hard times. If B anticipates that A will act in this manner, B will save too little from both agents' point of view. This is the Samaritan's dilemma. The logic of the dilemma has been employed in an extensive literature, addressing a wide range of both normative and positive issues. This paper shows, however, that the undersaving result is mitigated if we relax the standard assumption of complete information. The reason for this is that if A is uncertain about how big B's need for support is, B will have an incentive to signal that he is in great need by saving more than he otherwise would have done.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Microeconomics with number 0207001.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 09 Jul 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmi:0207001

Note: Type of Document - Tex (SWP); prepared on PC; pages: 38 ; figures: included
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Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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Keywords: altruism; saving; efficiency; signalling;

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References

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  1. Bengt Holmstrom & Roger B. Myerson, 1981. "Efficient and Durable Decision Rules with Incomplete Information," Discussion Papers 495, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Hansson, Ingemar & Stuart, Charles, 1989. "Social Security as Trade among Living Generations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1182-95, December.
  3. O'Connell, Stephen A. & Zeldes, Stephen P., 1993. "Dynamic efficiency in the gifts economy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 363-379, June.
  4. Lindbeck, Assar & Weibull, Jorgen W, 1988. "Altruism and Time Consistency: The Economics of Fait Accompli," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(6), pages 1165-82, December.
  5. Johan Lagerl–f, 2004. "Efficiency-enhancing signalling in the Samaritan's dilemma," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(492), pages 55-69, 01.
  6. Neil Bruce & Michael Waldman, 1986. "The Rotten-Kid Theorem Meets the Samaritan's Dilemma," UCLA Economics Working Papers 402, UCLA Department of Economics.
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  8. Bruce, Neil & Waldman, Michael, 1991. "Transfers in Kind: Why They Can Be Efficient and Nonpaternalistic," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1345-51, December.
  9. Bergstrom, Theodore C, 1989. "A Fresh Look at the Rotten Kid Theorem--and Other Household Mysteries," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1138-59, October.
  10. Veall, Michael R., 1986. "Public pensions as optimal social contracts," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 237-251, November.
  11. Spence, A Michael, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-74, August.
  12. Chakrabarti, Subir & Lord, William & Rangazas, Peter, 1993. "Uncertain Altruism and Investment in Children," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 994-1002, September.
  13. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, . "The Family and the State," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 87-15, Chicago - Population Research Center.
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  16. Coate, Stephen, 1995. "Altruism, the Samaritan's Dilemma, and Government Transfer Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 46-57, March.
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Cited by:
  1. J. Atsu Amegashie, 2006. "Economics, Gratitude, and Warm Glow," Working Papers 0601, University of Guelph, Department of Economics and Finance.
  2. Amihai Glazer & Hiroki Kondo, 2010. "Governmental Transfers Can Reduce a Moral Hazard Problem," Working Papers 101102, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
  3. Dijkstra, Bouwe R., 2007. "Samaritan versus rotten kid: Another look," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 91-110, September.
  4. Johan Lagerlof, 2002. "Efficiency-Enhancing Signalling in the Samaritan's Dilemma," Microeconomics 0207001, EconWPA.
  5. J. Atsu Amegashie, 2009. "Third-Party Intervention in Conflicts and the Indirect Samaritan's Dilemma," CESifo Working Paper Series 2695, CESifo Group Munich.

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