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2004): "Young, Selfish and Male: Field Evidence of Social Preferences

By John A. List


This study examines social preferences in three distinct field environments. In the first field setting, I allow consumers of all age and education levels to participate in one-shot and multiple-shot public goods games in a well-functioning marketplace. The second field study, an actual university capital campaign, gathers data from mail solicitations sent to 2,000 Central Florida residents. In the third field experiment, I examine data from an uncontrolled environment, a television gameshow, which closely resembles the classic prisoner’s dilemma game. Several insights emerge; perhaps the most provocative is that age and social preferences appear linked. At least since the seminal work of Samuelson (1954), many scholars have conjectured that private provision of public goods is inefficient because of the tendency for individuals to free-ride. The bulk of empirical evidence indicates that freeriding is a real concern, as underprovision of public goods in comparison to the social optimum occurs in most experimental settings; see Davis and Holt (1992) for a review. The general nature of the experimental results has been broadly consistent across different cultures, mechanism design, 1 number of players, an

Year: 1993
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