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Classroom Games: Voluntary Provision of a Public Good


  • Charles A. Holt
  • Susan K. Laury


This paper describes a simple public goods game, implemented with playing cards in a classroom setup. Students choose whether to contribute to the provision of a public good in a situation where it is privately optimal not to contribute, but socially optimal to contribute fully. This exercise motivates discussion of altruism, strategies for private fund-raising, and the role of government in resolving the public good problem.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 1997. "Classroom Games: Voluntary Provision of a Public Good," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 209-215, Fall.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:11:y:1997:i:4:p:209-15 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.11.4.209

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bohm, Peter, 1972. "Estimating demand for public goods: An experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 111-130.
    2. 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.
    3. John R. Carter & Michael D. Irons, 1991. "Are Economists Different, and If So, Why?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 171-177, Spring.
    4. Anderson, Simon P. & Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A., 1998. "A theoretical analysis of altruism and decision error in public goods games," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 297-323, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Akpalu Wisdom & Muchapondwa Edwin & Adidoye Babatunde & Simbanegavi Witness, 2015. "Public disclosure for pollution abatement: African decision-makers in a PROPER public good experiment," WIDER Working Paper Series 060, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Alexis Belianin & Marco Novarese, 2005. "Trust, communication and equlibrium behaviour in public goods," Experimental 0506001, EconWPA.
    3. Maertens, Annemie & Michelson, Hope & Nourani, Vesall, 2015. "Cooperative Behavior in Farmer Clubs: Experimental Evidence from Malawi," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205551, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    4. William E. Becker, 2007. "Quit Lying and Address the Controversies: There are No Dogmata, Laws, Rules or Standards in the Science of Economics," The American Economist, Sage Publications, vol. 51(1), pages 3-14, March.
    5. repec:eee:ecmode:v:66:y:2017:i:c:p:42-60 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Haan, Marco & Kooreman, Peter & Riemersma, Tineke, 2006. "Friendship in a Public Good Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2108, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Correa, Manuel & García-Quero, Fernando & Ortega-Ortega, Marta, 2016. "A role-play to explain cartel behavior: Discussing the oligopolistic market," International Review of Economics Education, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 8-15.
    8. Grigoriadis, Theocharis, 2013. "A political theory of Russian orthodoxy: Evidence from public goods experiments," Discussion Papers 2013/14, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    9. Charles A. Holt, 2011. "Teaching Experimental Economics: Reinforcing Paradigms and Bringing Research into the Undergraduate Classroom," Chapters,in: International Handbook on Teaching and Learning Economics, chapter 47 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Gerald Eisenkopf & Pascal Sulser, 2013. "A Randomized Controlled Trial of Teaching Methods: Do Classroom Experiments Improve Economic Education in High Schools?," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2013-17, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
    11. Boudes, Philippe & Darrot, Catherine, 2016. "Biens publics : construction économique et registres sociaux," Revue de la Régulation - Capitalisme, institutions, pouvoirs, Association Recherche et Régulation, vol. 19.
    12. Mohsen Edalati, 2017. "Harmonizing Teaching Tools with Cognitive Learning Outcomes in the Teaching of Economics," International Journal of Economics and Finance, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 9(1), pages 119-129, January.
    13. Becker, William E., 2004. "Good-byE old, hello new in teaching economics," Australasian Journal of Economics Education (AJEE), University of Queensland, School of Economics, vol. 1(1), pages 5-17, March.
    14. Jitka Šeneklová & Jiří Špalek, 2009. "Jsou ekonomové jiní? Ekonomický model versus realita
      [Are economists different? economic model]
      ," Politická ekonomie, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2009(1), pages 21-47.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers


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