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Giving little by little: Dynamic voluntary contribution games

  • Duffy, John
  • Ochs, Jack
  • Vesterlund, Lise

Shelling (1960) among others have argued that contributions to public goods may be larger if people spread their contributions and give one small contribution at a time. Examining a threshold public good environment, Marx and Matthews (2000) show that multiple rounds may secure a provision level that cannot be achieved when only one round of contributions is available. Interestingly, sequential contributions both increase the benefit of giving and the cost of free riding. In some environments, zero provision is the unique equilibrium of the one-round contribution game, whereas there are equilibria that reach the threshold in the multiple-round game. We study such an environment experimentally. While initially contributions appear to respond to the possibility of making multiple small contributions, this difference diminishes very quickly. Overall there is little evidence that contributions are larger when individuals slowly can contribute to the public good.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 91 (2007)
Issue (Month): 9 (September)
Pages: 1708-1730

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:91:y:2007:i:9:p:1708-1730
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Marks, Melanie & Croson, Rachel, 1998. "Alternative rebate rules in the provision of a threshold public good: An experimental investigation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 195-220, February.
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  10. Dorsey, Robert E, 1992. " The Voluntary Contributions Mechanism with Real Time Revisions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 73(3), pages 261-82, April.
  11. Leslie M. Marx & Steven A. Matthews, 1997. "Dynamic Voluntary Contribution to a Public Project," Discussion Papers 1188, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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