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Income Redistribution and Public Good Provision: an Experiment

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  • Jonathan Maurice
  • Marc Willinger
  • Agathe Rouaix

Abstract

We provide a new experimental investigation of the neutrality theorem of Warr (1983), who states ”when a single public good is provided at positive levels by private individuals, its provision is unaffected by a redistribution of income”. Instead of comparing different income distributions across groups as Chan et al. (1996), in our experiment the total group endowment is redistributed after a 10 rounds sequence. We compare an unequalizing redistribution (EI) and an equalizing redistribution (IE), to two benchmark treatments for which the 10 rounds sequence is repeated, either with an equal distribution (EE) or an unequal distribution (II). The constituent game has a unique interior dominant strategy equilibrium. Our data support the neutrality theorem (after controlling for the restart effect): redistribution has no effect on the total amount of public good in none of the tested treatments. However, the analysis of individual behavior shows that ”poor” subjects over-contribute with respect to their Nash-contribution, while ”rich” subjects tend to play their Nash-contribution or under-contribute slightly. Furthermore, after a redistribution, subjects react asymetrically: subjects who get poorer reduce their contribution of a larger amount than the amount of contribution added by subjects who become richer. And it is shown that the latter do not react enough to the redistribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Maurice & Marc Willinger & Agathe Rouaix, 2009. "Income Redistribution and Public Good Provision: an Experiment," Working Papers 09-12, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Jun 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:lam:wpaper:09-12
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chan, Kenneth S. & Mestelman, Stuart & Muller, R. Andrew, 2008. "Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
    2. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
    3. Sefton, Martin & Steinberg, Richard, 1996. "Reward structures in public good experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 263-287, August.
    4. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Why free ride? : Strategies and learning in public goods experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 291-304, December.
    5. Croson, Rachel T. A., 1996. "Partners and strangers revisited," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 25-32, October.
    6. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
    7. Keser, Claudia, 1996. "Voluntary contributions to a public good when partial contribution is a dominant strategy," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 359-366, March.
    8. Warr, Peter G., 1983. "The private provision of a public good is independent of the distribution of income," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 13(2-3), pages 207-211.
    9. Marc Willinger & Anthony Ziegelmeyer, 2001. "Strength of the Social Dilemma in a Public Goods Experiment: An Exploration of the Error Hypothesis," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 4(2), pages 131-144, October.
    10. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
    11. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Cooperation in Public-Goods Experiments: Kindness or Confusion?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 891-904, September.
    12. Laury, Susan K. & Holt, Charles A., 2008. "Voluntary Provision of Public Goods: Experimental Results with Interior Nash Equilibria," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
    13. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    14. Anderson, Simon P. & Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A., 1998. "A theoretical analysis of altruism and decision error in public goods games," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 297-323, November.
    15. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    16. Laury, Susan K & Walker, James M & Williams, Arlington W, 1999. "The Voluntary Provision of a Pure Public Good with Diminishing Marginal Returns," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 99(1-2), pages 139-160, April.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kamei, Kenju, 2014. "Promoting Competition or Helping Less-Endowed? An Experiment on Collective Institutional Choices under Intra-Group Inequality," MPRA Paper 56774, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Philipp E. Otto & Friedel Bolle, 2016. "Organizational power: Should remuneration heterogeneity mirror hierarchy?," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 20(3), pages 187-205, September.
    3. Tatsuyoshi Saijo, 2015. "The sandwich property in the voluntary contribution mechanism:The instability approach," Working Papers SDES-2015-13, Kochi University of Technology, School of Economics and Management, revised Mar 2015.
    4. Roman M. Sheremeta & Neslihan Uler, 2016. "The Impact of Taxes and Wasteful Government Spending on Giving," Working Papers 16-07, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    5. Agathe Rouaix & Charles Figuières & Marc Willinger, 2015. "The trade-off between welfare and equality in a public good experiment," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 45(3), pages 601-623, October.
    6. repec:eee:soceco:v:72:y:2018:i:c:p:67-77 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Tatsuyoshi Saijo, 2014. "The instability of the voluntary contribution mechanism," Working Papers SDES-2014-3, Kochi University of Technology, School of Economics and Management, revised Oct 2014.
    8. Feng, Jun & Saijo, Tatsuyoshi & Shen, Junyi & Qin, Xiangdong, 2018. "Instability in the voluntary contribution mechanism with a quasi-linear payoff function: An experimental analysis," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 67-77.
    9. Masaki Aoyagi & Naoko Nishimura & Yoshitaka Okano, 2017. "Efficiency and Voluntary Redistribution under Inequality," ISER Discussion Paper 0992, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    10. Keser, Claudia & Markstädter, Andreas & Schmidt, Martin & Schnitzler, Cornelius, 2014. "Social costs of inequality: Heterogeneous endowments in public-good experiments," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 217, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    11. Rustam Romaniuc & Dimitri Dubois & Gregory J. DeAngelo & Bryan C. McCannon, 2016. "Intergroup Solidarity and Local Public Goods Provision : An Experiment," Working Papers 16-11, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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