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The Value of Non-Binding Announcements in Public Goods Experiments: Some Theory and Experimental Evidence

  • Michael Berlemann
  • Marcus Dittrich
  • Gunther Markwardt

In this paper we present three simple theoretical models to explain the influence of the possibility to make non-binding announcements on investment behaviour in public goods settings. Our models build on the idea that voluntary contributions to the supply of a public good might be motivated by some form of joy of giving. We show that the possibility to make non-binding announcements has a positive effect on cooperative behaviour, especially if individual announcements and factual investments are communicated to the players after each round. We also show that this result holds true even though the players have an incentive to overstate their true degrees of cooperativeness. Altogether, our theoretical considerations point in the direction that revealing as much information on individual intentions and factual behaviour as possible enhances cooperative behaviour. These conclusions are broadly confirmed by the results of a series of classroom experiments we present.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 1352.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1352
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  1. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, . "A Theory of Reciprocity," IEW - Working Papers 006, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. McCloskey, Donald N, 1985. "The Loss Function Has Been Mislaid: The Rhetoric of Significance Tests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 201-05, May.
  3. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  4. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 1999. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 183, CESifo Group Munich.
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  6. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., . "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Chapters in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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  8. John O. Ledyard, 1994. "Public Goods: A Survey of Experimental Research," Public Economics 9405003, EconWPA, revised 22 May 1994.
  9. James Andreoni & Ragan Petrie, 2003. "Public Goods Experiments Without Confidentiality: A Glimpse Into Fund-Raising," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000520, David K. Levine.
  10. Gary E Bolton & Axel Ockenfels, 1997. "A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1889, David K. Levine.
  11. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  12. Mark Isaac, R. & McCue, Kenneth F. & Plott, Charles R., 1985. "Public goods provision in an experimental environment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 51-74, February.
  13. Kenneth S. Chan & Rob Godby & Stuart Mestelman & R. Andrew Muller, 1998. "Crowding Out Voluntary Contributions to Public Goods," Department of Economics Working Papers 1998-03, McMaster University.
  14. Berlemann, Michael, 2003. "The effect of signalling and beliefs on the voluntary provision of public goods," Dresden Discussion Paper Series in Economics 10/03, Dresden University of Technology, Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Economics.
  15. Brosig, Jeannette, 2002. "Identifying cooperative behavior: some experimental results in a prisoner's dilemma game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 275-290, March.
  16. Jeannette Brosig & Joachim Weimann & Axel Ockenfels, 2003. "The Effect of Communication Media on Cooperation," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 4(2), pages 217-241, 05.
  17. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-58, December.
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