Free-Rider Effects in Rent-Seeking Groups Competing for Public Goods
This paper studies individual behavior within a group when there is rent-seeking and groups compete in the selection of a public good - a variant of the traditional public goods problem. The situation is different from traditional public goods because an individual may not receive no reward for contribution to the group if the group does not win. Based on theory, the optimal contribution varies strategically depending on the characteristics of the situation, individual risk preferences, income, and subjective probability of winning. Individual contributions or bids toward a group objective were tested experimentally. Results showed that use of a demand revealing mechanism did not produce a significant difference in individual contributions to group efforts when the level of reward was low and when rewards were indirect. However, the demand revealing mechanism caused a significant difference in bids when rewards were high and direct, thus indicating free-riding behavior. Copyright 1996 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
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