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Group Size Effects in Public Goods Provision: The Voluntary Contributions Mechanism

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  • R. Mark Isaac
  • James M. Walker

Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between variations in group size and "free-riding" behavior in the voluntary provision of public goods. We examine experimentally two pertinent concepts: the marginal return to an individual from contributions to the public good, and the actual number of members in the group. Our results strongly support a hypothesis that increasing group size leads to a reduction in allocative efficiency when accompanied by a decrease in marginal return from the public good (as from crowding or an association of large groups with imperceptibility of marginal benefits). Our results do not support a pure numbers-in-the-group effect.

Suggested Citation

  • R. Mark Isaac & James M. Walker, 1988. "Group Size Effects in Public Goods Provision: The Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(1), pages 179-199.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:103:y:1988:i:1:p:179-199.
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