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Efficiency-enhancing signalling in the Samaritan's dilemma

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  • Johan Lagerl–f

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. This paper shows that the undersaving result is mitigated if we relax the standard assumption of complete information, because 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. Copyright 2004 Royal Economic Society.

Suggested Citation

  • Johan Lagerl–f, 2004. "Efficiency-enhancing signalling in the Samaritan's dilemma," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(492), pages 55-69, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:114:y:2004:i:492:p:55-69
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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 1165-1182, December.
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    9. Bernheim, B Douglas & Stark, Oded, 1988. "Altruism within the Family Reconsidered: Do Nice Guys Finish Last?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1034-1045, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. J. Atsu Amegashie, 2009. "Third-Party Intervention in Conflicts and the Indirect Samaritan's Dilemma," CESifo Working Paper Series 2695, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. J. Atsu Amegashie, 2006. "Economics, Gratitude, and Warm Glow," Working Papers 0601, University of Guelph, Department of Economics and Finance.
    3. Johan Lagerl–f, 2004. "Efficiency-enhancing signalling in the Samaritan's dilemma," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(492), pages 55-69, January.
    4. Dijkstra, Bouwe R., 2007. "Samaritan versus rotten kid: Another look," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 91-110, September.
    5. Amihai Glazer & Hiroki Kondo, 2010. "Governmental Transfers Can Reduce a Moral Hazard Problem," Working Papers 101102, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government

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