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Inequality and public good provision: An experimental analysis

  • Anderson, Lisa R.
  • Mellor, Jennifer M.
  • Milyo, Jeffrey

Recent studies report that economic inequality is associated with reduced government expenditures on social programs. Several prominent social scientists, including Putman (Putnam, R., 2000. Bowling Alone. Simon and Schuster, New York), attribute this to the detrimental "psychosocial effects" of group heterogeneity on cooperation. We test the hypothesis that inequality within a group reduces individual contributions in a public goods experiment. Unlike previous examinations of inequality and public good provision, we introduce inequality by manipulating the levels and distributions of fixed payments given to subjects. When made salient through public information about each individual's standing within the group, inequality reduces contributions to the public good for all group members.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics).

Volume (Year): 37 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 1010-1028

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Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:37:y:2008:i:3:p:1010-1028
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/620175

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