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Altruism and Voluntary Provision of Public Goods

  • Leanne Ma

    (Department of Economics, University of Melbourne)

  • Katerina Sherstyuk

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Hawaii at Manoa)

  • Malcom Dowling

    (Department of Economics, University of Melbourne)

  • Oliver Hill

    (Department of Psychology, Virginia State University)

We study how people's predisposition towards altruism, as measured by tools developed by psychologists, affects their behavior in a voluntary contributions public good experiment. Earlier experiments provide evidence against the strong free rider hypothesis; however, contributions to the public good decrease with repetition. We investigate whether a high level of contributions can be sustained in groups of subjects who have been pre-selected on the basis of their altruistic inclinations. In the first stage of the experiment, each subject responds to a psychology questionnaire that measures various dimensions of one's personality. The subjects are then matched in groups according to their altruism scores, and engage in a voluntary contribution game. We consider whether the levels and dynamics of group contributions differ significantly between the groups with altruists and non-altruists. We find that subjects' altruism has a weak but positive effect on group behavior in the public good game.

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File URL: http://www.economics.hawaii.edu/research/workingpapers/012.pdf
File Function: First version, 2000
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Paper provided by University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 200013.

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Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hai:wpaper:200013
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  1. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. Leanne Ma & Katerina Sherstyuk & Malcom Dowling & Oliver Hill, 2000. "Altruism and Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Working Papers 200013, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
  3. Offerman, Theo & Sonnemans, Joep & Schram, Arthur, 1996. "Value Orientations, Expectations and Voluntary Contributions in Public Goods," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(437), pages 817-45, July.
  4. Bohm, Peter, 1972. "Estimating demand for public goods: An experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 111-130.
  5. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  6. Burks, Stephen V. & Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Verhoogen, Eric, 2003. "Playing both roles in the trust game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 195-216, June.
  7. repec:att:wimass:9309 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Cooperation in Public-Goods Experiments: Kindness or Confusion?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 891-904, September.
  9. Palfrey, Thomas R & Prisbrey, Jeffrey E, 1997. "Anomalous Behavior in Public Goods Experiments: How Much and Why?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 829-46, December.
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