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Income Inequality, Reciprocity and Public Good Provision: An Experimental Analysis

  • Andre Hofmeyr
  • Justine Burns
  • Martine Visser

This paper analyses the impact of income inequality on public good provision in an experimental setting. A sample of secondary school students were recruited to participate in a simple linear public goods game where income heterogeneity was introduced by providing participants with unequal token endowments. The results show that endowment heterogeneity does not have any significant impact on contributions to the public good, and that consistent with models of reciprocity, low and high endowment players contribute the same fraction of their endowment to the public pool. Moreover, individuals appear to adjust their contributions in order to maintain a fair share rule.

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Paper provided by Economic Research Southern Africa in its series Working Papers with number 77.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:rza:wpaper:77
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  1. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Why free ride? : Strategies and learning in public goods experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 291-304, December.
  2. Andereoni, J., 1988. "Why Free Ride? Strategies And Learning In Public Goods Experiments," Working papers 375, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  3. Alesina, Alberto & Rodrik, Dani, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-90, May.
  4. R. M. Isaac & J. M. Walker, 2010. "Group size effects in public goods provision: The voluntary contribution mechanism," Levine's Working Paper Archive 310, David K. Levine.
  5. Cardenas, Juan-Camilo, 2003. "Real wealth and experimental cooperation: experiments in the field lab," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 263-289, April.
  6. Jeffrey Milyo & Jennifer M. Mellor & Lisa Anderson, 2004. "Inequality, Group Cohesion, and Public Good Provision: An Experimental Analysis," Working Papers 0418, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 27 Dec 2004.
  7. Bohm, Peter, 1972. "Estimating demand for public goods: An experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 111-130.
  8. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Privately provided public goods in a large economy: The limits of altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 57-73, February.
  9. Elinor Ostrom, 2000. "Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 137-158, Summer.
  10. Kenneth S. Chan & Stuart Mestelman & R. Andrew Muller, 1998. "Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," McMaster Experimental Economics Laboratory Publications 1998-02, McMaster University.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Baland, Jean-Marie & Platteau, Jean-Philippe, 1997. "Coordination problems in local-level resource management," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 197-210, June.
  14. Cherry, Todd L. & Kroll, Stephan & Shogren, Jason F., 2005. "The impact of endowment heterogeneity and origin on public good contributions: evidence from the lab," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 357-365, July.
  15. R. Isaac & James Walker & Susan Thomas, 1984. "Divergent evidence on free riding: An experimental examination of possible explanations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 113-149, January.
  16. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 0042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Becker, Gary S, 1976. "Altruism, Egoism, and Genetic Fitness: Economics and Sociobiology," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 817-26, September.
  18. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
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