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Heterogeneity and the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods

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  • Kenneth S. Chan
  • Stuart Mestelman
  • Rob Moir
  • R. Andrew Muller

Abstract

We investigate the effects of heterogeneity, incomplete information and communication on aggregate contributions to a public good using the voluntary contribution mechanism in a nonlinear laboratory environment. One-dimensional heterogeneity (heterogeneity in income or preferences) and two-dimensional heterogeneity (heterogeneity in income and preferences) both increase voluntary contributions. The effect is greatest when information is incomplete in the sense that subjects do not know each other’s payoffs. Incomplete information also reduces contributions in the homogeneous case. Communication reverses the relative importance of oneand two-dimensional heterogeneity in promoting cooperation.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth S. Chan & Stuart Mestelman & Rob Moir & R. Andrew Muller, 1998. "Heterogeneity and the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Department of Economics Working Papers 1998-04, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:deptwp:1998-04
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chan, Kenneth S. & Godby, Rob & Mestelman, Stuart & Andrew Muller, R., 2002. "Crowding-out voluntary contributions to public goods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, pages 305-317.
    2. Chan, Kenneth S. & Godby, Rob & Mestelman, Stuart & Muller, R. Andrew, 1997. "Equity theory and the voluntary provision of public goods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 349-364, March.
    3. Hackett Steven & Schlager Edella & Walker James, 1994. "The Role of Communication in Resolving Commons Dilemmas: Experimental Evidence with Heterogeneous Appropriators," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 99-126, September.
    4. Rapoport, Amnon & Suleiman, Ramzi, 1993. "Incremental Contribution in Step-Level Public Goods Games with Asymmetric Players," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 171-194, July.
    5. R. Andrew Muller & Stuart Mestelman, 1998. "What have we learned from emissions trading experiments?," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4-5), pages 225-238.
    6. Andrew Muller & Michelle Vickers, 1996. "Communication in a Common Pool Resource Environment with Probabilistic Destruction," Department of Economics Working Papers 1996-02, McMaster University.
    7. Bagnoli, Mark & McKee, Michael, 1991. "Voluntary Contribution Games: Efficient Private Provision of Public Goods," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(2), pages 351-366, April.
    8. Robert Moir, 1998. "A Monte Carlo Analysis of the Fisher Randomization Technique: Reviving Randomization for Experimental Economists," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 1(1), pages 87-100, June.
    9. Walker, James M. & Gardner, Roy & Ostrom, Elinor, 1990. "Rent dissipation in a limited-access common-pool resource: Experimental evidence," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 203-211, November.
    10. Steven C. Hackett, 1992. "Heterogeneity and the Provision of Governance for Common-Pool Resources," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 4(3), pages 325-342, July.
    11. Andreoni, James, 1993. "An Experimental Test of the Public-Goods Crowding-Out Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1317-1327, December.
    12. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 25-49.
    13. Isaac, R Mark & Walker, James M, 1988. "Communication and Free-Riding Behavior: The Voluntary Contribution Mechanism," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 585-608, October.
    14. Kenneth S. Chan & Stuart Mestelman & Rob Moir & R. Andrew Muller Moir, 1996. "The Voluntary Provision of Public Goods under Varying Income Distributions," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(1), pages 54-69, February.
    15. Kanbur, Ravi, 1992. "Heterogeneity, distribution, and cooperation in common property resource management," Policy Research Working Paper Series 844, The World Bank.
    16. Chan, Kenneth S. & Mestelman, Stuart & Muller, R. Andrew, 2008. "Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
    17. Pranab Bardhan, 1993. "Symposium on Management of Local Commons," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 87-92, Fall.
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