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A CLEAR AND PRESENT MINORITY: HETEROGENEITY IN THE SOURCE OF ENDOWMENTS AND THE PROVISION OF PUBLIC GOODS

Authors

  • ROBERT J. OXOBY,

    1. Oxoby: Department of Economics, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4. Phone (403) 220-2586, Fax (403) 282-5262, E-mail oxoby@ucalgary.ca
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  • JOHN SPRAGGON

    1. Spraggon: Department of Resource Economics, Stockbridge Hall, University of Massachusetts, 80 Campus Center Way, Amherst, MA 01003-9246. Phone (413) 545-6651, Fax (413) 545-5853, E-mail jmspragg@resecon.umass.edu
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    • We thank Todd Cherry, Jeremy Clark, Rachel Croson, Doug Davis, David Dickinson, Stuart Mestelman, and participants at the 2005 international meeting of the Economic Science Association (Montreal, Canada) for helpful comments. The authors thank Kendra McLeish and Alexander Smith for research assistance. Financial support from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, and the Institute for Advanced Policy Research is acknowledged.


Abstract

We conduct public goods experiments in which participant groups are heterogeneous in regards to the source of their endowments. We find that this dimension of heterogeneity significantly reduces contributions to the public good, yielding strong support for the Nash prediction of minimal contributions. These minimal contributions arise in environments in which there exists a clear minority in terms of source of endowments. We discuss these results in light of current research on the influence of heterogeneous populations on public goods provision and redistributive policies. (JEL C9, D63, H4, J15)

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