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Social policy instruments and the compliance environment

Judd B. Kessler, Corinne Low and Monica Singhal

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2021, vol. 192, issue C, 248-267

Abstract: Two types of social policy instruments — making group behavior public to the individual and making individual behavior public to the group — are used by charities to encourage giving and by policymakers to incentivize other prosocial behaviors. However, models of social norms suggest that the effects of such interventions are theoretically ambiguous and may even backfire in low-compliance environments. We examine these questions in the context of a public good game. Exploiting a unique experimental design, we show that initial contributors' giving decisions are sensitive to the behavior of the group while initial non-contributors' decisions are not. In contrast, making own behavior public to the group increases contributions for all group types, even those comprised entirely of initial non-contributors. These findings suggest that publicizing contributions causes individuals to respond to a common understanding of prosocial behavior that is not defined solely by the initial group norm.

Keywords: Experimental economics; Charitable giving; Public good provision; Social recognition; Policy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2021.09.037

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Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization is currently edited by Houser, D. and Puzzello, D.

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