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Attitudes and attributes: a field experiment with public officials and transfer recipients In Colombia


  • Juan Camilo Cárdenas


  • Rajiv Sethi



Any system of transfer payments must be administered by officials with some degree of discretionary power over the manner in which funds are allocated. Attitudes of such officials regarding the worthiness of various recipients therefore have implications for resource allocation. Using a sample of actual public servants working in education, health, child care and nutrition programs, and a sample of potential and actual beneficiaries of such programs, we attempt to identify the set of recipient attributes that induce the most generous responses from officials. This is done using a design we call the distributive dictator game" which requires officials to rank recipients, with the understanding that a higher ranking corresponds to an increased likelihood of getting a voucher convertible into cash. Interpreting the ranking as the outcome of a random utility model, we estimate the effects of recipient attributes using a rank-order logistic regression. We find that public officials tend to favor women, married persons, individuals with many minor dependents, and refugees from political violence. "

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  • Juan Camilo Cárdenas & Rajiv Sethi, 2007. "Attitudes and attributes: a field experiment with public officials and transfer recipients In Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 006881, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000089:006881

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Abigail Barr & Magnus Lindelow & Pieter Serneels, 2003. "To serve the community or oneself: the public servant's dilemma," CSAE Working Paper Series 2003-11, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    2. Omar Azfar & William Nelson, 2007. "Transparency, wages, and the separation of powers: An experimental analysis of corruption," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 130(3), pages 471-493, March.
    3. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J. & Johnston, Rachel M., 2005. "An experimental test of the crowding out hypothesis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(8), pages 1543-1560, August.
    4. Peter Hans Matthews & Jeffrey Carpenter & Jessica Holmes, 2004. "Charity Auctions: A Field Experimental Investigation," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0417, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
    5. Branas-Garza, Pablo, 2006. "Poverty in dictator games: Awakening solidarity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 306-320, July.
    6. Christina M. Fong, 2007. "Evidence from an Experiment on Charity to Welfare Recipients: Reciprocity, Altruism and the Empathic Responsiveness Hypothesis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(522), pages 1008-1024, July.
    7. Beggs, S. & Cardell, S. & Hausman, J., 1981. "Assessing the potential demand for electric cars," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 1-19, September.
    8. Catherine Eckel & Philip Grossman, 2000. "Volunteers and Pseudo-Volunteers: The Effect of Recruitment Method in Dictator Experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 3(2), pages 107-120, October.
    9. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "Viewpoint: On the generalizability of lab behaviour to the field," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 40(2), pages 347-370, May.
    10. Vivi Alatas & Lisa Cameron & Ananish Chaudhuri & Nisvan Erkal & Lata Gangadharan, 2009. "Subject pool effects in a corruption experiment: A comparison of Indonesian public servants and Indonesian students," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 12(1), pages 113-132, March.
    11. Catherine C. Eckel, 2007. "People Playing Games: The Human Face of Experimental Economics," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 840-857, April.
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    More about this item


    Public officials; transfer recipients; field experiments; rank-order logistic regression.;

    JEL classification:

    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
    • H83 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Public Administration
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • C1 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General


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