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Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow: On the implications of deaccess policies on donations to museums


  • Luigi Di Gaetano

    () (Dipartimento di Economia e Impresa, Universita degli Studi di Catania)

  • Isidoro Mazza

    () (Department of Economics and Quantitative Methods, Universita degli Studi di Catania)


Severe budget cuts in the cultural sectors of many countries have spurred disparate suggestions for alternative sources available to public institutions. Deaccessioning may contribute to guarantee the survival of cultural institutions without serious negative impacts on the fruition of cultural goods. This paper addresses the consequences of a widespread deaccessioning on in-kind bequests to museums, by developing a sequential game with incomplete information. We look at the interactions between a donor and a museum. The latter could be either institutionally committed not to sale its collection, or free to sell part of its art endowment. Our main results show that when deaccessioning is allowed, contributions to museums of both types may decrease. Interestingly, public grants to museums cause a negative externality to the committed museum, which experiences a reduction in donations. Results provide intuitions also for the widespread resistance to deaccessioning of public museum directors, for their efforts to enforce common regulation, and also for the proliferation of private art museums.

Suggested Citation

  • Luigi Di Gaetano & Isidoro Mazza, 2014. "Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow: On the implications of deaccess policies on donations to museums," ACEI Working Paper Series AWP-01-2014, Association for Cultural Economics International, revised Apr 2014.
  • Handle: RePEc:cue:wpaper:awp-01-2014

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Towse,Ruth, 2010. "A Textbook of Cultural Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521888721, June.
    2. Harbaugh, William T., 1998. "What do donations buy?: A model of philanthropy based on prestige and warm glow," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 269-284, February.
    3. Martin Sefton & Robert Shupp & James M. Walker, 2007. "The Effect Of Rewards And Sanctions In Provision Of Public Goods," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(4), pages 671-690, October.
    4. 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 464-477, June.
    5. Towse,Ruth, 2010. "A Textbook of Cultural Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521717021, June.
    6. Glazer, Amihai & Konrad, Kai A, 1996. "A Signaling Explanation for Charity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 1019-1028, September.
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    More about this item


    deaccessioning; museums; asymmetric information; sequential game;

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • Z11 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economics of the Arts and Literature
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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