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Group size effects in public goods provision: The voluntary contribution mechanism


  • R. M. Isaac
  • J. M. Walker


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.
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  • R. M. Isaac & J. M. Walker, 2010. "Group size effects in public goods provision: The voluntary contribution mechanism," Levine's Working Paper Archive 310, David K. Levine.
  • Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:310

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    1. Wilson, Robert B, 1985. "Incentive Efficiency of Double Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(5), pages 1101-1115, September.
    2. Friedman, Daniel, 1984. "On the Efficiency of Experimental Double Auction Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(1), pages 60-72, March.
    3. Hey, John D., 1987. "Still searching," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 137-144, March.
    4. Smith, Vernon L & Suchanek, Gerry L & Williams, Arlington W, 1988. "Bubbles, Crashes, and Endogenous Expectations in Experimental Spot Asset Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1119-1151, September.
    5. Hey, John D., 1982. "Search for rules for search," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 65-81, March.
    6. Joyce E. Berg & Lane A. Daley & John W. Dickhaut & John R. O'Brien, 1986. "Controlling Preferences for Lotteries on Units of Experimental Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(2), pages 281-306.
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