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The donor problem

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  • Klaus Abbink
  • Matthew Ellman

Abstract

Donors often rely on local intermediaries to deliver benefits to target beneficiaries. Each selected recipient observes if the intermediary under-delivers to them, so they serve as natural monitors. However, they may withhold complaints when feeling unentitled or grateful to the intermediary for selecting them. Furthermore, the intermediary may distort selection (e.g. by picking richer recipients who feel less entitled) to reduce complaints. We design an experimental game representing the donor’s problem. In one treatment, the intermediary selects recipients. In the other, selection is random - as by an uninformed donor. In our data, random selection dominates delegation of the selection task to the intermediary. Selection distortions are similar, but intermediaries embezzle more when they have selection power and (correctly) expect fewer complaints.

Suggested Citation

  • Klaus Abbink & Matthew Ellman, 2004. "The donor problem," Economics Working Papers 796, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jan 2005.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:796
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    1. d'Exelle, B. & Riedl, A.M., 2008. "Elite capture, political voice and exclusion form aid: an experimental study," Research Memorandum 024, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
    2. Buitrago, Gelkha & Gueth, Werner & Levati, Maria Vittoria, 2009. "On the relation between impulses to help and causes of neediness: An experimental study," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 80-88, January.
    3. Gelkha Buitrago & Werner Güth & M. Vittoria Levati, 2006. "Does anticipated aid create the need it wants to avoid? An experimental investigation," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2006-24, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Development; Entitlement; Experiments; Fairness; Intermediaries; Monitoring; Targeting; Punishment.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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