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Are tax-financed contributions to a public good completely crowded-out? Experimental evidence

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  • Gronberg, Timothy J.
  • Luccasen, R. Andrew
  • Turocy, Theodore L.
  • Van Huyck, John B.

Abstract

We report the results of a laboratory experiment on crowd-out in a voluntary contribution mechanism public good game. In our setting, a standard argument states that a tax should not be effective in raising contributions, because agents respond by reducing voluntary contributions by the amount of the tax. Our experimental design focuses in on this intuition by abstracting away from several potential confounds. We use a specification for the payoff function in which there is a dominant strategy for own-earnings maximizing agents, located interior to and in the upper half of the strategy space. The dominant strategy ensures that changes in contributions are attributable to the tax directly, rather than second-order effects due to responses to out-of-equilibrium play by other agents. The dominant strategy is made more transparent by the use of a novel graphical decision interface. We find that individuals robustly choose at or above the own-earnings dominant strategy level. Even with the controls of the design, crowd-out is incomplete, but the degree of crowd-out is higher than in previous studies. Analysis of individual-level decisions provides evidence of different player types. Behavior of subjects not choosing the dominant or Pareto-efficient contributions is well-organized by a model of warm-glow giving with a logit decision error.

Suggested Citation

  • Gronberg, Timothy J. & Luccasen, R. Andrew & Turocy, Theodore L. & Van Huyck, John B., 2012. "Are tax-financed contributions to a public good completely crowded-out? Experimental evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(7-8), pages 596-603.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:96:y:2012:i:7:p:596-603 DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2012.04.001
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    1. repec:spr:sochwe:v:49:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s00355-017-1070-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Lim, Wooyoung & Matros, Alexander & Turocy, Theodore L., 2014. "Bounded rationality and group size in Tullock contests: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 155-167.
    3. Alpízar, Francisco & Martinsson, Peter & Nordén, Anna, 2015. "Do entrance fees crowd out donations for public goods? Evidence from a protected area in Costa Rica," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(03), pages 311-326, June.
    4. repec:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:11:p:3617-33 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Martinsson, Peter & Persson, Emil, 2016. "Public Goods and Minimum Provision Levels: Does the institutional formation affect cooperation?," Working Papers in Economics 655, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    6. Mark Ottoni-Wilhelm & Lise Vesterlund & Huan Xie, 2014. "Why Do People Give? Testing Pure and Impure Altruism," Working Papers 14002, Concordia University, Department of Economics.
    7. Lionel Richefort, 2017. "Warm-Glow Giving in Networks with Multiple Public Goods," Working Papers 2017.32, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.

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    Keywords

    Public goods; Crowd-out; Warm-glow; Logit choice;

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