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Weak Moral Motivation Leads to the Decline of Voluntary Contributions

Author

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  • Charles Figuieres

    (LAMETA - Laboratoire Montpelliérain d'Économie Théorique et Appliquée - UM1 - Université Montpellier 1 - UPVM - Université Paul-Valéry - Montpellier 3 - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - Montpellier SupAgro - Centre international d'études supérieures en sciences agronomiques - UM - Université de Montpellier - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Montpellier SupAgro - Institut national d’études supérieures agronomiques de Montpellier - Institut Agro - Institut national d'enseignement supérieur pour l'agriculture, l'alimentation et l'environnement)

  • David Masclet

    (CREM - Centre de recherche en économie et management - UNICAEN - Université de Caen Normandie - NU - Normandie Université - UR1 - Université de Rennes 1 - UNIV-RENNES - Université de Rennes - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Marc Willinger

    (LAMETA - Laboratoire Montpelliérain d'Économie Théorique et Appliquée - UM1 - Université Montpellier 1 - UPVM - Université Paul-Valéry - Montpellier 3 - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - Montpellier SupAgro - Centre international d'études supérieures en sciences agronomiques - UM - Université de Montpellier - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Montpellier SupAgro - Institut national d’études supérieures agronomiques de Montpellier - Institut Agro - Institut national d'enseignement supérieur pour l'agriculture, l'alimentation et l'environnement, IUF - Institut Universitaire de France - M.E.N.E.S.R. - Ministère de l'Education nationale, de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche)

Abstract

We develop a model that accounts for the decay of the average contribution observed in experiments on voluntary contributions to a public good. The novel idea is that people's moral motivation is "weak." Their judgment about the right contribution depends on observed contributions by group members and on an intrinsic "moral ideal." We show that the assumption of weakly morally motivated agents leads to the decline of the average contribution over time. The model is compatible with persistence of overcontributions, variability of contributions (across and within individuals), the "restart effect" and the observation that the decay in contributions is slower in longer games. Furthermore, it offers a rationale for conditional cooperation.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Figuieres & David Masclet & Marc Willinger, 2013. "Weak Moral Motivation Leads to the Decline of Voluntary Contributions," Post-Print halshs-00969247, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00969247
    DOI: 10.1111/jpet.12036
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00969247
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    2. Dickinson, David L. & Masclet, David, 2019. "Using ethical dilemmas to predict antisocial choices with real payoff consequences: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 195-215.
    3. Boun My, Kene & Ouvrard, Benjamin, 2019. "Nudge and tax in an environmental public goods experiment: Does environmental sensitivity matter?," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 24-48.
    4. Dickinson, David L. & Masclet, David & Peterle, Emmanuel, 2018. "Discrimination as favoritism: The private benefits and social costs of in-group favoritism in an experimental labor market," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 220-236.
    5. Masclet, David & Montmarquette, Claude & Viennot-Briot, Nathalie, 2019. "Can whistleblower programs reduce tax evasion? Experimental evidence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 83(C).
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    7. Benjamin Ouvrard & Sandrine Spaeter, 2016. "Environmental Incentives: Nudge or Tax?," Working Papers of BETA 2016-23, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    8. David L. Dickinson & David Masclet, 2021. "Unethical Decision Making and Sleep Restriction: Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 21-09, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
    9. Antinyan, Armenak & Horváth, Gergely & Jia, Mofei, 2020. "Curbing the consumption of positional goods: Behavioral interventions versus taxation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 1-21.
    10. Shunji Oniki & Haftu Etsay & Melaku Berhe & Teklay Negash, 2020. "Improving Cooperation among Farmers for Communal Land Conservation in Ethiopia: A Public Goods Experiment," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(21), pages 1-16, November.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public Good; contribution; game thoery; conditional cooperation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games

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