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The Experimetrics of Public Goods: Inferring Motivations from Contributions

  • Nicholas Bardsley

    (CeDEx, School of Economics, University of Nottingham)

  • Peter Moffatt

    (School of Economics, University of East Anglia)

In public goods experiments, stochastic choice, censoring, and motivational heterogeneity allow experimentalists to differ over the extent of unselfishness, and whether it is reciprocal or altruistic. These problems are addressed econometrically by estimating a finite mixture model to isolate types, incorporating the two-limit Tobit model with tremble to accommodate censoring and errors. Most subjects act selfishly, but a substantial proportion are reciprocal with altruism playing only a marginal role. Isolating reciprocators enables a test of Sugden’s model of voluntary contributions, which is rejected because they display a selfserving bias.

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Paper provided by The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham in its series Discussion Papers with number 2005-09.

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Date of creation: Jun 2005
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Handle: RePEc:not:notcdx:2005-09
Contact details of provider: Postal: School of Economics University of Nottingham University Park Nottingham NG7 2RD
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Web page: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/economics/cedex/

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  1. Nicholas Bardsley, 2000. "Control Without Deception: Individual Behaviour in Free-Riding Experiments Revisited," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 215-240, December.
  2. R. Isaac & James Walker, 1998. "Nash as an Organizing Principle in the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods: Experimental Evidence," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 191-206, December.
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  5. Forrest D. Nelson, 1976. "On a General Computer Algorithm for the Analysis of Models with Limited Dependent Variables," NBER Chapters, in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 5, number 4, pages 493-509 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  7. Peter Moffatt & Simon Peters, 2001. "Testing for the Presence of a Tremble in Economic Experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 221-228, December.
  8. Sefton, Martin & Steinberg, Richard, 1996. "Reward structures in public good experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 263-287, August.
  9. Daniel Houser & Robert Kurzban, 2002. "Revisiting Kindness and Confusion in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1062-1069, September.
  10. Brandts, Jordi & Schram, Arthur, 2001. "Cooperation and noise in public goods experiments: applying the contribution function approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 399-427, February.
  11. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 1999. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," CESifo Working Paper Series 183, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. Weimann, Joachim, 1994. "Individual behaviour in a free riding experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 185-200, June.
  13. Sugden, Robert, 1984. "Reciprocity: The Supply of Public Goods through Voluntary Contributions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376), pages 772-87, December.
  14. Marc Willinger & Anthony Ziegelmeyer, 2001. "Strength of the Social Dilemma in a Public Goods Experiment: An Exploration of the Error Hypothesis," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 131-144, October.
  15. Loomes, Graham & Moffatt, Peter G & Sugden, Robert, 2002. " A Microeconometric Test of Alternative Stochastic Theories of Risky Choice," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 103-30, March.
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