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Cooperation Is Relative: Income and Framing Effects with Public Goods

Author

Listed:
  • Brekke, Kjell Arne

    () (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo)

  • Konow , James

    () (Department of Economics, Loyola Marymount University,)

  • Nyborg, Karine

    () (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo)

Abstract

In social dilemmas, there is tension between cooperation that promotes the common good and the pursuit of individual interests. International climate change negotiations provide one example: although abatement costs are borne by individual countries, the benefits are shared globally. We study a multi-period, threshold public goods game with unequally endowed participants and communication in which the decision variable is framed in three seemingly inconsequential ways: as absolute contributions, contributions relative to endowments and in terms of the effects of contributions on final payoffs. We find considerable agreement that “rich” (or high endowed) persons contribute more than “poor” (or low endowed) individuals at levels that are invariant across frames. Frames do, however, significantly affect both preferred and actual contributions for the poor: they contribute significantly less when the decision variable makes the effects on final payoffs salient than when it is framed in terms of absolute contributions. Contributions are explained mostly by self-interest, justice preferences, and experiencing failed negotiations, but we find no effects of reciprocity toward individuals or of the suggestions of others about what one should contribute.

Suggested Citation

  • Brekke, Kjell Arne & Konow , James & Nyborg, Karine, 2012. "Cooperation Is Relative: Income and Framing Effects with Public Goods," Memorandum 16/2012, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:osloec:2012_016
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    File URL: https://www.sv.uio.no/econ/english/research/unpublished-works/working-papers/pdf-files/2012/Memo-16-2012.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Konow, James, 2001. "Fair and square: the four sides of distributive justice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 137-164, October.
    2. Ernesto Reuben & Arno Riedl, 2009. "Public Goods Provision and Sanctioning in Privileged Groups," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 53(1), pages 72-93, February.
    3. Lange, Andreas & Löschel, Andreas & Vogt, Carsten & Ziegler, Andreas, 2010. "On the self-interested use of equity in international climate negotiations," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 359-375, April.
    4. W. Guth & R. Schmittberger & B. Schwartz, 2010. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Levine's Working Paper Archive 291, David K. Levine.
    5. Rachel T. A. Croson, 2007. "Theories Of Commitment, Altruism And Reciprocity: Evidence From Linear Public Goods Games," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(2), pages 199-216, April.
    6. Andre Hofmeyr & Justine Burns & Martine Visser, 2007. "Income Inequality, Reciprocity And Public Good Provision: An Experimental Analysis," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 75(3), pages 508-520, September.
    7. Brekke, Kjell Arne & Kverndokk, Snorre & Nyborg, Karine, 2003. "An economic model of moral motivation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 1967-1983, September.
    8. R. Cookson, 2000. "Framing Effects in Public Goods Experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 3(1), pages 55-79, June.
    9. Tavoni, Alessandro & Dannenberg, Astrid & Kallis, Giorgos & Löschel, Andreas, 2011. "Inequality, communication and the avoidance of disastrous climate change," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 37570, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    10. Rege, Mari & Telle, Kjetil, 2004. "The impact of social approval and framing on cooperation in public good situations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1625-1644, July.
    11. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Weng, Qian & Carlsson, Fredrik, 2015. "Cooperation in teams: The role of identity, punishment, and endowment distribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 25-38.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public good game; threshold; communication; fairness; endowment heterogeneity;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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