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Free-Riding and the Provision of Public Goods in the Family: An Experimental Test of the Rotten Kid Theorem

Опубликовано на портале: 25-11-2004
International Economic Review. 2004.  Vol. 45. No. 1. P. 283-299. 
We examine the effects of family altruism and shared resource arrangements on the voluntary provision of public goods using methods drawn from experimental economics. Economic models of the family assume that, with sufficient altruism and shared resource arrangements, families can provide the efficient level of family public goods. Becker's ‘Rotten Kid Theorem' goes one step further in asserting that, even if children are not altruistic towards other family members, they will be induced to maximize family income because transfers from altruistic parents will neutralize any gain from opportunistic behavior. Consistent with the idea of altruism towards family members, our results show that both parents and children contributed more to a public good fund when the group consisted of family members than when the group consisted of strangers. In contrast to the predictions of the Rotten Kid Theorem, however, the children's contributions fell substantially short of maximizing group income, even when they were in groups with their own family.

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