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Anonymity, reciprocity, and conformity: Evidence from voluntary contributions to a national park in Costa Rica

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  • Alpizar, Francisco
  • Carlsson, Fredrik
  • Johansson-Stenman, Olof

Abstract

We investigate the role of anonymity, reciprocity, and conformity for voluntary contributions, based on a natural field experiment conducted at a national park in Costa Rica. Contributions made in public in front of the solicitor are 25% higher than contributions made in private. Giving subjects a small gift before requesting a contribution increases the likelihood of a positive contribution. At the same time, the conditional contribution decreases. The total effect of giving a gift is positive but small, and taking the cost of the gift into account, it is far from profitable. When the subjects are told that the typical contribution of others is $2 (a small contribution), the probability of a contribution increases and the conditional contribution decreases, compared with providing no reference information. Providing a high reference level ($10) increases the conditional contributions. Overall, the total effects have the expected signs, although the magnitudes are smaller than what one might have expected based on existing evidence from laboratory experiments.

Suggested Citation

  • Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2008. "Anonymity, reciprocity, and conformity: Evidence from voluntary contributions to a national park in Costa Rica," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1047-1060, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:92:y:2008:i:5-6:p:1047-1060
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    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General

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