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On the Economic Relevance of the Principle of Gratuitousness



In this paper the principle of gratuitousness and its relationships with other principles which motivate behaviour, such as those inspired by reciprocity, is analyzed. The basic premise is that gratuitousness is a feature acquired by an action by virtue of the intentions that inspire the action itself. In this respect, the search for gratuitousness may require to discriminate among aestetically equivalent actions on the basis of the psychological disposition of the actor. The main claim of the paper is that in economically relevant situations gratuituousness is to be conceived as a modality of cooperation, emerging as the outcome of a team reasoning perspective and motivating such a perspective without any need for reciprocity. This claim is analyzed with regard to blood donations and, more generally, with regard to the voluntary provision of goods.

Suggested Citation

  • Sergio Beraldo, 2015. "On the Economic Relevance of the Principle of Gratuitousness," CSEF Working Papers 398, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:398

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bacharach, Michael, 1999. "Interactive team reasoning: A contribution to the theory of co-operation," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 117-147, June.
    2. Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1975. "Macroeconomic Constraints, Economic Efficiency and Ethics: An Introduction to Kantian Economics," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 42(168), pages 430-437, November.
    3. Robert Sugden, 2011. "Mutual advantage, conventions and team reasoning," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 58(1), pages 9-20, March.
    4. Schotter, Andrew, 1979. "The Economics of Tipping and Gratuities: An Essay in Institution Assisted Micro-Economics," Working Papers 79-19, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
    5. Michael Bacharach, 2006. "The Hi-Lo Paradox, from Beyond Individual Choice: Teams and Frames in Game Theory," Introductory Chapters, in: Natalie Gold & Robert Sugden (ed.),Beyond Individual Choice: Teams and Frames in Game Theory, Princeton University Press.
    6. Belk, Russell W & Coon, Gregory S, 1993. "Gift Giving as Agapic Love: An Alternative to the Exchange Paradigm Based on Dating Experiences," Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Research Inc., vol. 20(3), pages 393-417, December.
    7. George A. Akerlof, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 97(4), pages 543-569.
    8. Tim Clutton-Brock, 2009. "Cooperation between non-kin in animal societies," Nature, Nature, vol. 462(7269), pages 51-57, November.
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    More about this item


    Gratuituousness; reciprocity; team reasoning;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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