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Is Altruism Feasible? Interdependent Preferences Provide the Answer

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  • Vicki Knoblauch

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

Is it possible to be altruistic in the face of altruism? With a naive definition of altruism, the answer is no. If an altruistic consumer is defined to be one whose preferences over allocations satisfy an appropriate interdependence condition, then the answer is yes. However, altruism in the face of malice is impossible. One of our findings is that if two consumers are mutually altruistic, exactly one of them should adopt selfish preferences over allocations.

Suggested Citation

  • Vicki Knoblauch, 2001. "Is Altruism Feasible? Interdependent Preferences Provide the Answer," Working papers 2001-04, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2001-04
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    File URL: http://web2.uconn.edu/economics/working/2001-04.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Georg Kirchsteiger & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-459.
    2. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    3. Bester, Helmut & Guth, Werner, 1998. "Is altruism evolutionarily stable?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 193-209, February.
    4. Kockesen, Levent & Ok, Efe A. & Sethi, Rajiv, 2000. "The Strategic Advantage of Negatively Interdependent Preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 274-299, June.
    5. Bergstrom, Theodore C, 1999. " Systems of Benevolent Utility Functions," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 1(1), pages 71-100.
    6. Andreoni,J. & Miller,J.H., 1999. "Giving according to GARP : an experimental test of the rationality of altruism," Working papers 2, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    altruism; interdependent preferences;

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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