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Common identity and the voluntary provision of public goods: An experimental investigation

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  • Li, Sherry Xin
  • de Oliveira, Angela C.M.
  • Eckel, Catherine

Abstract

We conduct a framed field experiment in two Dallas neighborhoods to examine how common identity affects individual contributions to local public goods. The participants’ common identity is primed to make neighborhood membership salient before individuals make donations to local non-profit organizations. We find that the identity treatment is sensitive to community context. It decreases the likelihood of giving in the struggling, poor neighborhood, but its impact is positive, albeit statistically insignificant, in the low- to middle-income neighborhood. In addition, the identity treatment triggers participants’ perceptions or memories of experiences with their communities which in turn lead to the treatment differences across the two communities. Our findings reveal the limitations on the power of common group identity in influencing individual economic decision making, which has been largely overlooked in the literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Li, Sherry Xin & de Oliveira, Angela C.M. & Eckel, Catherine, 2017. "Common identity and the voluntary provision of public goods: An experimental investigation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 32-46.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:32-46
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2017.07.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Common identity; Priming; Public goods provision; Experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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