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Group Size and Incentives to Contribute: A Natural Experiment at Chinese Wikipedia

  • Xiaoquan (Michael) Zhang
  • Feng Zhu
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    The literature on the private provision of public goods suggests an inverse relationship between incentives to contribute and group size. We find, however, that after an exogenous reduction of group size at Chinese Wikipedia, the nonblocked contributors decrease their contributions by 42.8 percent on average. We attribute the cause to social effects: contributors receive social benefits that increase with both the amount of their contributions and group size, and the shrinking group size weakens these social benefits. Consistent with our explanation, we find that the more contributors value social benefits, the more they reduce their contributions after the block. (JEL H41, L17, L82)

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    Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

    Volume (Year): 101 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 4 (June)
    Pages: 1601-15

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    Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:4:p:1601-15
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    1. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-58, December.
    2. Riber, D.C. & Wilhelm, M.O., 1996. "Altruistic and Joy-of-Giving Motivations in Charitable Behavior," Papers 1-96-4, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
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    6. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 990-1008, June.
    7. Isaac, R. Mark & Walker, James M. & Williams, Arlington W., 1994. "Group size and the voluntary provision of public goods : Experimental evidence utilizing large groups," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-36, May.
    8. Bilodeau, Marc & Slivinski, Al, 1996. "Toilet cleaning and department chairing: Volunteering a public service," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 299-308, February.
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    11. Bliss, Christopher & Nalebuff, Barry, 1984. "Dragon-slaying and ballroom dancing: The private supply of a public good," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1-2), pages 1-12, November.
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    13. Steinberg, Richard S, 1987. "Voluntary Donations and Public Expenditures in a Federal System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 24-36, March.
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    15. Andreoni, James & Scholz, John Karl, 1998. "An Econometric Analysis of Charitable Giving with Interdependent Preferences," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 410-28, July.
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