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When does less information translate into more giving to public goods?

Author

Listed:
  • Billur Aksoy

    (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

  • Silvana Krasteva

    (Texas A&M University)

Abstract

This paper theoretically and experimentally investigates the impact of information provision on voluntary contributions to a linear public good with an uncertain marginal per-capita return (MPCR). Uninformed donors make contribution decisions based only on the expected MPCR (i.e. the prior distribution), while informed donors observe the realized MPCR before contributing. The theoretical analysis predicts that the impact of information on average contributions crucially depends on the generosity level of the population, modeled as a stochastic change in the pro-social preferences. In particular, a less generous population increases contributions substantially in response to good news of higher than expected MPCR and reduces contributions relatively little in response to bad news of lower than expected MPCR. The opposite is true for a more generous population. Thus, the theory predicts that information provision increases (reduces) average contributions when the population is less (more) generous. This prediction finds strong support in a two-stage lab experiment. The first stage measures subjects’ generosity in the public good game using an online experiment. The resulting measure is used to create more and less generous groups in the public good lab experiment, which varies the information provided to these groups in the lab. The findings are in line with the theoretical predictions, suggesting that targeted information provision to less generous groups may be more beneficial for public good contributions than uniform information provision.

Suggested Citation

  • Billur Aksoy & Silvana Krasteva, 2020. "When does less information translate into more giving to public goods?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 23(4), pages 1148-1177, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:23:y:2020:i:4:d:10.1007_s10683-020-09643-1
    DOI: 10.1007/s10683-020-09643-1
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Information provision; Linear public good game; Other-regarding preferences; Lab experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General

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