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Are Social Preferences Stable over Time?


  • Fredrik Carlsson

    () (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)

  • Olof Johansson-Stenman

    () (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)

  • Pham Khanh Nam

    () (University of Gothenburg, Sweden,and Ho Chi Minh City University of Economics, Vietnam)


We use a combination of two natural experiments and one field experiment tomeasure people’s prosocial behavior in terms of voluntary money and labor time contributions to an archetypicalpublic good – a bridge – in rural Vietnam, at three different points in time from 2005 to 2010. Since the experiments are far apart in time, potentially confounding effects of moral licensing and moral cleansing are presumably small, if at all existent. We find a strong positive and statistically significant correlation between voluntary contributions in these experiments, whether correcting for other covariates or not.This result suggests that prosocial preferences are at least partly stable over long periods of time.

Suggested Citation

  • Fredrik Carlsson & Olof Johansson-Stenman & Pham Khanh Nam, 2012. "Are Social Preferences Stable over Time?," Working Papers 13, Development and Policies Research Center (DEPOCEN), Vietnam.
  • Handle: RePEc:dpc:wpaper:1312

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    Natural experiment; field experiment; preference stability; social preferences; moral licensing; moral cleansing;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods


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