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Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: Causal Evidence of Non-Separability

  • Marco Faravelli
  • Luca Stanca

This paper provides a direct test of the hypothesis that agents' objective functions are non-separable in economic incentives and social preferences. We study experimentally fixed-prize contests using a 2x2 design, varying orthogonally the degree of competition of the incentive mechanism (all-pay auction vs. lottery) and the presence or absence of social returns to bidding (rent seeking vs. public good). The results indicate that either stronger competition or positive social returns have positive main effects on bids. In addition, we find a negative interaction between the all-pay auction mechanism and the public good environment, leading us to reject separability. This finding provides causal evidence that economic incentives may negatively affect pro-social behavior.

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File URL: http://dems.unimib.it/repec/pdf/mibwpaper250.pdf
File Function: First version, 2013
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Paper provided by University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 250.

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Length: 32
Date of creation: Jul 2013
Date of revision: Jul 2013
Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:250
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  1. Baye, M.R. & Kovenock, D. & De Varies, C.G., 1990. "The All-Pay Auction With Complete Information," Papers 9051, Tilburg - Center for Economic Research.
  2. Schmidt, Klaus M., 2010. "Social Preferences and Competition," Discussion Papers in Economics 11313, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  3. Sheremeta, Roman, 2009. "Experimental Comparison of Multi-Stage and One-Stage Contests," MPRA Paper 49884, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  5. Lucca Corazzini & Marco Faravelli & Lucca Stanca, 2007. "A Prize to Give for: An Experiment on Public Good Funding Mechanisms," ESE Discussion Papers 159, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  6. Craig Landry & Andreas Lange & John List & Michael Price & Nicholas Rupp, 2006. "Toward an understanding of the economics of charity: Evidence from a field experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00292, The Field Experiments Website.
  7. Bénabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2004. "Incentives and Prosocial Behaviour," CEPR Discussion Papers 4633, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Faravelli, Marco & Stanca, Luca, 2012. "Single versus multiple-prize all-pay auctions to finance public goods: An experimental analysis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 677-688.
  9. Jacob K. Goeree & Emiel Maasland & Sander Onderstal & John L. Turner, 2005. "How (Not) to Raise Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(4), pages 897-926, August.
  10. Dechenaux, Emmanuel & Kovenock, Dan & Sheremeta, Roman, 2014. "A Survey of Experimental Research on Contests, All-Pay Auctions and Tournaments," MPRA Paper 59714, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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  12. John Morgan, 2000. "Financing Public Goods by Means of Lotteries," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 761-784.
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  15. Douglas Davis & Robert Reilly, 1998. "Do too many cooks always spoil the stew? An experimental analysis of rent-seeking and the role of a strategic buyer," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1), pages 89-115, April.
  16. Douglas D. Davis & Laura Razzolini & Robert Reilly & Bart J. Wilson, 2003. "Raising Revenues for Charity: Auctions versus Lotteries," Working Papers 0301, VCU School of Business, Department of Economics.
  17. Onderstal, Sander & Schram, Arthur J.H.C. & Soetevent, Adriaan R., 2013. "Bidding to give in the field," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 72-85.
  18. Price, Curtis R. & Sheremeta, Roman M., 2011. "Endowment effects in contests," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 111(3), pages 217-219, June.
  19. Benedikt Herrmann & Henrik Orzen, 2008. "The appearance of homo rivalis: Social preferences and the nature of rent seeking," Discussion Papers 2008-10, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
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  28. Eisenkopf, Gerald & Teyssier, Sabrina, 2013. "Envy and loss aversion in tournaments," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 240-255.
  29. John Morgan & Martin Sefton, 2000. "Funding Public Goods with Lotteries: Experimental Evidence," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 785-810.
  30. Uri Gneezy & Stephan Meier & Pedro Rey-Biel, 2011. "When and Why Incentives (Don't) Work to Modify Behavior," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 191-210, Fall.
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  33. Roman M. Sheremeta & William A. Masters & Timothy N. Cason, 2012. "Winner-Take-All and Proportional-Prize Contests: Theory and Experimental Results," Working Papers 12-04, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
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