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Using lotteries to finance public goods: theory and experimental evidence

Listed author(s):
  • Andreas Lange
  • John List
  • Michael Price

This study explores the economics of charitable fund-raising. We begin by developing theory that examines the optimal lottery design while explicitly relaxing both risk-neutrality and preference homogeneity assumptions. We test our theory using a battery of experimental treatments and find that our theoretical predictions are largely confirmed. Specifically, we find that single and multiple prize lotteries dominate the voluntary contribution mechanism both in total dollars raised and the number of contributors attracted. Moreover, we find that the optimal fund-raising mechanism depends critically on the risk postures of potential contributors and preference heterogeneity.

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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Artefactual Field Experiments with number 00381.

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Date of creation: 2007
Handle: RePEc:feb:artefa:00381
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

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  1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
  2. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela, 2001. "The Optimal Allocation of Prizes in Contests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 542-558, June.
  3. Dennis Epple & Richard Romano, 2003. "Collective Choice and Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(2), pages 545-572, 05.
  4. John A. List & David Lucking-Reiley, 2002. "The Effects of Seed Money and Refunds on Charitable Giving: Experimental Evidence from a University Capital Campaign," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 215-233, February.
  5. Fries, Timothy L & Golding, Edward & Romano, Richard E, 1991. "Private Provision of Public Goods and the Failure of the Neutrality Property in Large Finite Economies," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 32(1), pages 147-157, February.
  6. Butler, J S & Moffitt, Robert, 1982. "A Computationally Efficient Quadrature Procedure for the One-Factor Multinomial Probit Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 761-764, May.
  7. John Morgan, 2000. "Financing Public Goods by Means of Lotteries," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 761-784.
  8. John Morgan & Martin Sefton, 2000. "Funding Public Goods with Lotteries: Experimental Evidence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 785-810.
  9. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Privately provided public goods in a large economy: The limits of altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 57-73, February.
  10. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  11. Jacob K. Goeree & Emiel Maasland & Sander Onderstal & John L. Turner, 2005. "How (Not) to Raise Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(4), pages 897-926, August.
  12. Eckel, Catherine C. & Wilson, Rick K., 2004. "Is trust a risky decision?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 447-465, December.
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