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Is Altruism Feasible? Interdependent Preferences Provide the Answer

  • Vicki Knoblauch

    (University of Connecticut)

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.

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Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2001-04.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2001-04
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  1. 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..
  2. Bester, H. & Güth, W., 1994. "Is altruism evolutionarily stable ?," Discussion Paper 1994-103, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  3. Kockesen, Levent & Ok, Efe A. & Sethi, Rajiv, 1997. "The Strategic Advantage of Negatively Interdependent Preferences," Working Papers 97-34, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  4. 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.
  5. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
  6. 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.
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