Thankful or thankless: Does the past’s altruism increase the present’s public good contributions?

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Two important aspects of global environmental problems are that (1) the actions of past generations affect the opportunities of the present, and (2) both in the past and the present generations, collaboration across different countries is needed to provide global public goods. In this paper, we study how these two aspects influence public good provisions by running simultaneous intercountry laboratory experiments using a modified public goods game in Denmark, Spain and Ghana. While the theoretical predictions of the modified public goods game do not differ from that of the standard public goods game, our experimental results show otherwise. Pooling across results from our Danish, Spanish and Ghanaian participants, we find that present-generation individuals contribute a higher percentage of their endowments when they have better institutions and a lower percentage of their endowments when they have higher endowments. We also find that present-generation individuals contribute less to transnational public goods only when their initial conditions have not been affected by past-generation contributions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Issue number1
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ID: 235154393