IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/umc/wpaper/0418.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Inequality, Group Cohesion, and Public Good Provision: An Experimental Analysis

Author

Abstract

Recent studies argue that inequality reduces group cohesiveness and dampens support for expenditures on public goods and social programs. In light of competing theoretical explanations and mixed empirical evidence of the effect of inequality on public goods provision, we conduct a test using a public goods experiment. Our design introduces inequality by manipulating the levels and distributions of fixed payments given to subjects for participating in the experiment. When made salient through public information about each individuals standing within the group, inequality in the distribution of fixed payments reduces contributions to the public good for all group members.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:umc:wpaper:0418
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://economics.missouri.edu/working-papers/2004/wp0418_milyo.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Chan, Kenneth S. & Mestelman, Stuart & Muller, R. Andrew, 2008. "Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
    2. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2001. "Group Loyalty and the Taste for Redistribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 500-528, June.
    3. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
    4. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-1093, Nov.-Dec..
    5. Chan, Kenneth S. & Godby, Rob & Mestelman, Stuart & Muller, R. Andrew, 1997. "Equity theory and the voluntary provision of public goods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 349-364, March.
    6. Smith, Vernon L, 1985. "Experimental Economics: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 264-272, March.
    7. Zak, Paul J & Knack, Stephen, 2001. "Trust and Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(470), pages 295-321, April.
    8. Andreoni, James & Croson, Rachel, 2008. "Partners versus Strangers: Random Rematching in Public Goods Experiments," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
    9. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
    10. Edward L. Glaeser & David I. Laibson & José A. Scheinkman & Christine L. Soutter, 2000. "Measuring Trust," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 811-846.
      • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    11. Jennifer M. Mellor & Jeffrey Milyo, 1999. "Re-Examining the Evidence of an Ecological Association between Income Inequality and Health," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9922, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    12. Sadrieh, A. & Verbon, H.A.A., 2002. "Inequality, trust and growth : An experimental study," Discussion Paper 2002-84, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    13. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 847-904.
    14. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-1288.
    15. Rapoport, Amnon & Suleiman, Ramzi, 1993. "Incremental Contribution in Step-Level Public Goods Games with Asymmetric Players," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 171-194, July.
    16. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1999:89:8:1187-1193_6 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Angus Deaton, 2001. "Relative Deprivation, Inequality, and Mortality," NBER Working Papers 8099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2003. "Cowards and Heroes: Group Loyalty in the American Civil War," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(2), pages 519-548.
    19. K. S. Chan & S. Mestelman & R. Moir & R. A. Muller, 2001. "Heterogeneity, Communication, Coordination and Voluntary Provision of a Public Good," Department of Economics Working Papers 2001-06, McMaster University.
    20. repec:pri:cheawb:deaton_relative_deprivation is not listed on IDEAS
    21. 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.
    22. Bagnoli, Mark & McKee, Michael, 1991. "Voluntary Contribution Games: Efficient Private Provision of Public Goods," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(2), pages 351-366, April.
    23. Vigdor, Jacob L., 2002. "Interpreting ethnic fragmentation effects," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 271-276, April.
    24. Lisa R. Anderson, 2001. "Public choice as an experimental science," Chapters,in: The Elgar Companion to Public Choice, chapter 24 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    25. Marwell, Gerald & Ames, Ruth E., 1981. "Economists free ride, does anyone else? : Experiments on the provision of public goods, IV," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 295-310, June.
    26. Kenneth Chan & Stuart Mestelman & Robert Moir & R. Muller, 1999. "Heterogeneity and the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(1), pages 5-30, August.
    27. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2001. "Understanding the Decline in Social Capital, 1952-1998," NBER Working Papers 8295, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    28. Jennifer M. Mellor & Jeffrey Milyo, 2003. "State Social Capital and Individual Health Status," Working Papers 0310, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
    29. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1994. "Is Inequality Harmful for Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 600-621, June.
    30. 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.
    31. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1997:87:9:1491-1498_6 is not listed on IDEAS
    32. Birdsall, N., 1999. "Education: The People's Asset," Papers 5, Brookings Institution - Working Papers.
    33. van Dijk, Eric & Grodzka, Malgorzata, 1992. "The influence of endowments asymmetry and information level on the contribution to a public step good," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 329-342, June.
    34. 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.
    35. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-927, October.
    36. Thorbecke, Erik & Charumilind, Chutatong, 2002. "Economic Inequality and Its Socioeconomic Impact," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(9), pages 1477-1495, September.
    37. repec:pri:cheawb:deaton_relative_deprivation.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    38. Sheryl Ball & Catherine Eckel & Philip J. Grossman & William Zame, 2001. "Status in Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 161-188.
    39. Jennifer M. Mellor & Jeffrey Milyo, 2002. "Income Inequality and Health Status in the United States: Evidence from the Current Population Survey," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(3), pages 510-539.
    40. Daniel J. Zizzo & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Are People Willing to Pay to Reduce Others'Incomes?," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 63-64, pages 39-65.
    41. Knack, Stephen, 2000. "Social capital and the quality of Government : evidence from the U.S. States," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2504, The World Bank.
    42. Allan Meltzer & Scott Richard, 1983. "Tests of a rational theory of the size of government," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 403-418, January.
    43. Buckley, Edward & Croson, Rachel, 2006. "Income and wealth heterogeneity in the voluntary provision of linear public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(4-5), pages 935-955, May.
    44. Laury, Susan K. & Holt, Charles A., 2008. "Voluntary Provision of Public Goods: Experimental Results with Interior Nash Equilibria," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
    45. Lindert, Peter H., 1996. "What Limits Social Spending?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 1-34, January.
    46. Tatsuyoshi Saijo & Hideki Nakamura, 2001. "The 'Spite' Dilemma in Voluntary Contribution Mechanism Experiments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000155, David K. Levine.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Andre Hofmeyr & Justine Burns & Martine Visser, 2007. "Income Inequality, Reciprocity And Public Good Provision: An Experimental Analysis," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 75(3), pages 508-520, September.
    2. Burns, Justine & Keswell, Malcolm, 2015. "Diversity and the provision of public goods: Experimental evidence from South Africa," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 110-122.
    3. Antonio Filippin & Manuela Raimondi, 2016. "The Patron Game with Heterogeneous Endowments: A Case Against Inequality Aversion," De Economist, Springer, vol. 164(1), pages 69-81, March.
    4. Jennifer M. Mellor & Jeffrey Milyo, 2003. "State Social Capital and Individual Health Status," Working Papers 0310, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
    5. Lisa R. Anderson & Jennifer M. Mellor & Jeffrey Milyo, 2004. "Do Liberals Play Nice? The Effects of Party and Political Ideology in Public Goods and Trust Games," Working Papers 07, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
    6. Lisa R. Anderson & Jennifer M. Mellor & Jeffrey Milyo, 2004. "Social Capital and Contributions in a Public-Goods Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 373-376, May.
    7. Marianna Baggio & Luigi Mittone, 2016. "Experience and History: An Experimental Approach to Generational Heterogeneity," International Journal of Applied Behavioral Economics (IJABE), IGI Global, vol. 5(4), pages 1-23, October.
    8. Marianna Baggio & Luigi Mittone, 2015. "Grandparents Matter: Perspectives on Intergenerational Altruism. An Experiment on Family Dynamic Spillovers in Public Goods Games," CEEL Working Papers 1502, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public Good; Inequality; Free Rider;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:umc:wpaper:0418. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Valerie Kulp). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/edumous.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.