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Heterogeneity and the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods

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  • Kenneth Chan
  • Stuart Mestelman

    ()

  • Robert Moir
  • R. Muller

Abstract

We investigate the effects of heterogeneity and incomplete information on aggregate contributions to a public good using the voluntary contribution mechanism. The non-linear laboratory environment has three-person groups as partners under varying conditions of information and communication. Bergstrom, Blum and Varian predict that increasing heterogeneity will have no effect on aggregate contributions in a no-communication environment. Ledyard conjectures a positive effect of incomplete information, a negative effect of heterogeneity, and a positive interaction of heterogeneity and incomplete information. We find that incomplete information has a small but significant negative effect. Heterogeneity has a positive effect on aggregate contributions, but its effects interact unexpectedly with communication. In a no-communication environment, heterogeneity in two dimensions (endowment and preferences) increases contributions substantially while heterogeneity in a single dimension (endowment or preferences) has little effect. In the communication environment we find the reverse. We also find a positive interaction between heterogeneity and incomplete information. Thus we reject the Bergstrom, Blume and Varian invariance result and provide mixed evidence on Ledyard's conjectures. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth Chan & Stuart Mestelman & Robert Moir & R. Muller, 1999. "Heterogeneity and the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(1), pages 5-30, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:2:y:1999:i:1:p:5-30
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1009984414401
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chan, Kenneth S. & Mestelman, Stuart & Muller, R. Andrew, 2008. "Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
    2. Chan, Kenneth S. & Godby, Rob & Mestelman, Stuart & Muller, R. Andrew, 1997. "Equity theory and the voluntary provision of public goods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 349-364, March.
    3. Rapoport, Amnon & Suleiman, Ramzi, 1993. "Incremental Contribution in Step-Level Public Goods Games with Asymmetric Players," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 171-194, July.
    4. Chan, Kenneth S. & Godby, Rob & Mestelman, Stuart & Andrew Muller, R., 2002. "Crowding-out voluntary contributions to public goods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 305-317, July.
    5. Bagnoli, Mark & McKee, Michael, 1991. "Voluntary Contribution Games: Efficient Private Provision of Public Goods," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(2), pages 351-366, April.
    6. Andreoni, James, 1993. "An Experimental Test of the Public-Goods Crowding-Out Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1317-1327, December.
    7. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
    8. Isaac, R Mark & Walker, James M, 1988. "Communication and Free-Riding Behavior: The Voluntary Contribution Mechanism," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 585-608, October.
    9. Kenneth S. Chan & Stuart Mestelman & Rob Moir & R. Andrew Muller Moir, 1996. "The Voluntary Provision of Public Goods under Varying Income Distributions," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(1), pages 54-69, February.
    10. Kanbur, Ravi, 1992. "Heterogeneity, distribution, and cooperation in common property resource management," Policy Research Working Paper Series 844, The World Bank.
    11. Hackett Steven & Schlager Edella & Walker James, 1994. "The Role of Communication in Resolving Commons Dilemmas: Experimental Evidence with Heterogeneous Appropriators," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 99-126, September.
    12. Andrew Muller & Michelle Vickers, 1996. "Communication in a Common Pool Resource Environment with Probabilistic Destruction," Department of Economics Working Papers 1996-02, McMaster University.
    13. Robert Moir, 1998. "A Monte Carlo Analysis of the Fisher Randomization Technique: Reviving Randomization for Experimental Economists," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 1(1), pages 87-100, June.
    14. Walker, James M. & Gardner, Roy & Ostrom, Elinor, 1990. "Rent dissipation in a limited-access common-pool resource: Experimental evidence," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 203-211, November.
    15. Steven C. Hackett, 1992. "Heterogeneity and the Provision of Governance for Common-Pool Resources," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 4(3), pages 325-342, July.
    16. Pranab Bardhan, 1993. "Symposium on Management of Local Commons," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 87-92, Fall.
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