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Those Outsiders: How Downstream Externalities Affect Public Good Provision

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  • Sarah Jacobson

    (Williams College)

  • Jason Delaney

    (School of Business Administration, Georgia Gwinnett College)

Abstract

Some policy problems pit the interests of one group against those of another group. One group may, for example, determine the provision of a project (such as a power plant or a dam) that benefits group members but has downstream externalities that hurt people outside the group. We introduce a model of projects with such asymmetries. In-group members may contribute to a common fund that benefits them as a public good. In the model, benefits from the project may or may not vary within the group. Project provision has negative downstream externalities: common fund contributions hurt agents outside the in-group ("Outsiders") rendering common fund contributions anti-social overall. Many models of social preferences predict that such externalities should reduce or eliminate project provision, although conditional cooperation or a preference for in-group members may counteract this effect. We test this model with a lab experiment. With homogeneous in-group benefits, the presence of negative downstream externalities reduces contribution levels by nearly half. We introduce a rotating high-return position that allows subjects to trade favors. Contributions diminish only slightly with the introduction of the negative externality and reciprocal giving occurs whether or not Outsiders are present.

Suggested Citation

  • Sarah Jacobson & Jason Delaney, 2013. "Those Outsiders: How Downstream Externalities Affect Public Good Provision," Department of Economics Working Papers 2013-09, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  • Handle: RePEc:wil:wileco:2013-09
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Katerina Sherstyuk & Nori Tarui & Melinda Podor Wengrin & Jay Viloria & Tatsuyoshi Saijo, 2014. "Other-regarding behavior under collective action," Working Papers 201404, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
    2. Sarah Jacobson & Jason Delaney, 2012. "The Good of the Few: Reciprocity in the Provision of a Public Bad," Department of Economics Working Papers 2012-02, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    3. Delaney, Jason & Jacobson, Sarah, 2015. "The good of the few: Reciprocal acts and the provision of a public bad," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 46-55.
    4. Dekel, Sagi & Fischer, Sven & Zultan, Ro’i, 2017. "Potential Pareto Public Goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 87-96.
    5. Esther Blanco & Tobias Haller & James M. Walker, 2016. "Provision of public goods: Unconditional and conditional donations from outsiders," Working Papers 2016-16, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck, revised Nov 2016.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    public bad; public good; social preferences; reciprocity; externalities; in-group-out-group; parochial altruism;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General

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