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Heterogeneous Social Preferences And The Dynamics Of Free Riding In Public Good Experiments

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  • URS FISCHBACHER

    (University of Konstanz)

  • SIMON GAECHTER

    (University of Nottingham, School of Economics)

Abstract

We provide a direct test of the role of social preferences and beliefs in voluntary cooperation and its decline. We elicit individuals’ cooperation preference in one experiment and use them – as well as subjects’ elicited beliefs – to make predictions about contributions to a public good played repeatedly. We find substantial heterogeneity in people’s preferences. With simulation methods based on this data, we show that the decline of cooperation is driven by the fact that most people have a preference to contribute less than others. Belief formation and virtual learning do not contribute to the decline of cooperation. Universal free riding is very likely despite the fact that most people are not selfish.

Suggested Citation

  • Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter, 2008. "Heterogeneous Social Preferences And The Dynamics Of Free Riding In Public Good Experiments," Discussion Papers 2008-07, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  • Handle: RePEc:not:notcdx:2008-07
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    3. Coren L Apicella & David Cesarini & Magnus Johannesson & Christopher T Dawes & Paul Lichtenstein & Björn Wallace & Jonathan Beauchamp & Lars Westberg, 2010. "No Association between Oxytocin Receptor (OXTR) Gene Polymorphisms and Experimentally Elicited Social Preferences," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 5(6), pages 1-8, June.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public goods experiments; social preferences; conditional cooperation; free riding;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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