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Altruism and Voluntary Provision of Public Goods

  • Dowling, M.
  • Hall, O.
  • Ma, L.
  • Sherstyuk, K.

We study how people's predisposition towards altruism, as measured by tools developed by psychologists, affects their behaviour in a voluntary contributions public good environment. Earlier experiments provide evidence against the strong free rider hypothesis; however, contributions to the public good decrease with repetition. We investigate whether a high level of contributions can be sustained in groups of subjects who have been pre-selected on the basis of their altruistic inclinations. In the first stage of the experiment, each subject responds to a psychology questionnaire that measures various dimensions of one's personality. The subjects are then matched in groups according to their altruism scores, and engage in a voluntary contribution game. We consider whether the levels and dynamics of group contributions differ significantly between the groups with altruists and non-altruists. We find that subjects' altruism has a weak but positive effect on group behaviour in the public good game.

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Paper provided by The University of Melbourne in its series Department of Economics - Working Papers Series with number 760.

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Length: 13 pages
Date of creation: 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mlb:wpaper:760
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  1. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Burks, Stephen V. & Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Verhoogen, Eric, 2003. "Playing both roles in the trust game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 195-216, June.
  3. Leanne Ma & Katerina Sherstyuk & Malcom Dowling & Oliver Hill, 2000. "Altruism and Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Working Papers 200013, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
  4. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Cooperation in Public-Goods Experiments: Kindness or Confusion?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 891-904, September.
  5. Bohm, Peter, 1972. "Estimating demand for public goods: An experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 111-130.
  6. Offerman, Theo & Sonnemans, Joep & Schram, Arthur, 1996. "Value Orientations, Expectations and Voluntary Contributions in Public Goods," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(437), pages 817-45, July.
  7. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  8. Palfrey, Thomas R & Prisbrey, Jeffrey E, 1997. "Anomalous Behavior in Public Goods Experiments: How Much and Why?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 829-46, December.
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