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Altruism in the (Social) Network

Author

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  • Brañas Garza, Pablo
  • Cobo Reyes, Ramón
  • Espinosa Alejos, María Paz
  • Jiménez, Natalia
  • Ponti, Giovanni

Abstract

This paper explores the role of social integration on altruistic behavior. To this aim, we develop a two-stage experimental protocol based on the classic Dictator Game. In the first stage, we ask a group of 77 undergraduate students in Economics to elicit their social network; in the second stage, each of them has to unilaterally decide over the division of a fixed amount of money to be shared with another anonymous member in the group. Our experimental design allows to control for other variables known to be relevant for altruistic behavior: framing and friendship/acquaintance relations. Consistently with previous research, we find that subjects favor their friends and that framing enhances altruistic behavior. Once we control for these effects, social integration (measured by betweenness, a standard centrality measure in network theory) has a positive effect on giving: the larger social isolation within the group, the more likely it is the emergence of selfish behavior. These results suggest that information on the network structure in which subjects are embedded is crucial to account for their behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Brañas Garza, Pablo & Cobo Reyes, Ramón & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Jiménez, Natalia & Ponti, Giovanni, 2006. "Altruism in the (Social) Network," DFAEII Working Papers 2006-04, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehu:dfaeii:6725
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    File URL: https://addi.ehu.es/handle/10810/6725
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    Cited by:

    1. Stephen Leider & Markus M. Möbius & Tanya Rosenblat & Quoc-Anh Do, 2007. "How much is a friend worth?: directed altruism and enforced reciprocity in social networks," Working Papers 07-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    altruism; social integration; social networks; experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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