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Essays on Social Preferences
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This dissertation includes three essays in the fields of public and behavioral economics with a special focus on social preferences using both lab and field experiments. The first essay investigates the impact that information about the value of a public good has on voluntary contributions. It is costly for organizations to provide detailed information about their projects. Thus, organizations would ideally like to spend their resources on information provision only if it would help increase the contributions. We find that the impact of information depends on the generosity level of the population. While providing more information increases average contributions in a relatively less generous donor population, it actually hurts contributions in a relatively more generous population. Thus, these findings suggest targeting information provision towards less generous donor groups. The second essays studies the impact that scarcity of resources has on cheating and in-group favoritism using a two-stage lab-in-the-field experiment with low-income coffee farmers in a small, isolated village in Guatemala. Using the distinctive variance in income that comes from seasonal coffee harvesting, we first conducted our experiment before the harvest (Scarcity period) and then during the harvest season (Abundance period). First, we find that subjects cheat at high levels in both periods when they are the beneficiary of the cheating. Scarcity does not impact this cheating behavior. Secondly, we find significant in-group favoritism towards fellow villagers for cheating in the Abundance period, which disappears during the Scarcity period. Finally, using a dictator game, we show that this finding holds even when the cost of favoring an in-group member is monetary. The last essay studies whether workers exert more effort when they work for a mission-oriented job using a modified gift-exchange experiment. We find that workers exert more effort when they work for a non-profit organization rather than a for-profit one, but only for high wages. Thus, higher wages generate significantly higher profits in the non-profit firm compared to the for-profit firm. We contribute to the literature by studying how intrinsic motivations may impact effort choices in the workplace.
linear public good game
Aksoy, Billur (2019). Essays on Social Preferences. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from