Many thanks are due to Ananish Chaudhuri, Charles Noussair, Dimitry Ritschev, and the participants in APESA 2008 (Singapore).
Weak Moral Motivation Leads to the Decline of Voluntary Contributions
Article first published online: 7 JUN 2013
© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Journal of Public Economic Theory
Volume 15, Issue 5, pages 745–772, October 2013
How to Cite
FIGUIÈRES, C., MASCLET, D. and WILLINGER, M. (2013), Weak Moral Motivation Leads to the Decline of Voluntary Contributions. Journal of Public Economic Theory, 15: 745–772. doi: 10.1111/jpet.12036
- Issue published online: 19 AUG 2013
- Article first published online: 7 JUN 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 5 APR 2013 09:00AM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 26 AUG 2011
- Manuscript Received: 10 APR 2010
We develop a model that accounts for the decay of the average contribution observed in experiments on voluntary contributions to a public good. The novel idea is that people's moral motivation is “weak.” Their judgment about the right contribution depends on observed contributions by group members and on an intrinsic “moral ideal.” We show that the assumption of weakly morally motivated agents leads to the decline of the average contribution over time. The model is compatible with persistence of overcontributions, variability of contributions (across and within individuals), the “restart effect” and the observation that the decay in contributions is slower in longer games. Furthermore, it offers a rationale for conditional cooperation.