Public Choice

, Volume 135, Issue 3–4, pp 257–276 | Cite as

Social preferences and private provision of public goods: A ‘double critical mass’ model

  • Angelo Antoci
  • Pier Luigi Sacco
  • Luca ZarriEmail author


We set up an evolutionary game-theoretic model aimed at addressing the issue of local public good provision via direct commitment of voluntary forces (private donors and nonprofit providers) only. Two classes of agents are assumed to strategically interact within a ‘double critical mass’ model and we investigate the critical factors affecting the dynamic outcomes of such interaction. Further, we explore the conditions under which (what we term) ‘evolutionary crowding-out/in’ occurs, depending on agents’ degree of opportunism, social comparison and positive selective incentives (such as subsidies given by the government to ‘virtuous’ citizens or nonprofits only).


Double critical mass Evolutionary crowding-out Privately provided public goods Prosocial emotions Social preferences 


C73 H41 L30 Z13 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abrams, B., & Schmitz, M. (1984). The crowding-out effect of government transfers on private charitable contributions: cross-sectional evidence. National Tax Journal, 37, 563–568. Google Scholar
  2. Andreoni, J. (1993). An experimental test of the public goods crowding-out hypothesis. American Economic Review, 83, 1317–1327. Google Scholar
  3. Andreoni, J. (1998). Toward a theory of charitable fund-raising. Journal of Political Economy, 106(6), 1186–1213. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Andreoni, J., & Bergstrom, T. C. (1996). Do government subsidies increase the private supply of public goods? Public Choice, 88, 295–308. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Andreoni, J., Gale, W. G., & Scholz, J. K. (1996). Charitable contributions of time and money. Working Paper, University of Wisconsin. Google Scholar
  6. Andreoni, J., & Payne, A. A. (2003). Do government grants to private charities crowd out giving or fund-raising? American Economic Review, 93(3), 792–812. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Antoci, A., & Sacco, P. L. (1996). Il futuro delle città d’arte: il ruolo della contribuzione volontaria nelle politiche di ammortamento sociale. Stato e Mercato, 48, 493–521. Google Scholar
  8. Antoci, A., Sacco, P. L., & Zarri, L. (2003). The ‘art city’ as a local public good: the strategic interplay between private donors and arts organizations. Public Finance and Management, 3(2), 263–290. Google Scholar
  9. Arrow, K. (1998). Foreword. In B. A. Weisbrod (Ed.), To profit or not to profit. The commercial transformation of the nonprofit sector (pp. IX–X). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
  10. Bar-Gill, O., & Fershtman, C. (2005). Public policy with endogenous preferences. Journal of Public Economic Theory, 7, 841–857. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ben-Ner, A. (2002). The shifting boundaries of the mixed economy and the future of the nonprofit sector. Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, 73(1), 5–49. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bowles, S., & Gintis, H. (2005). Prosocial emotions. In L. Blume, & S. Durlauf (Eds.), The economy as a complex evolving system III: essays in honor of Kenneth Arrow. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  13. Camerer, C. (2003). Behavioral game theory. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Google Scholar
  14. Cialdini, R. H. (1993). Influence. The psychology of persuasion. New York: Morrow. Google Scholar
  15. Davis, D. D., & Holt, C. A. (1993). Experimental economics. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Google Scholar
  16. Fehr, E., & Gächter, S. (1999). Reciprocal fairness, heterogeneity, and institutions. Paper presented at the AEA Meeting, New York. Google Scholar
  17. Henrich, J., Boyd, R., Bowles, S., Camerer, C., Fehr, E., & Gintis, H. (Eds.) (2004). Foundations of human sociality. Economic experiments and ethnographic evidence from fifteen small-scale societies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  18. Hofbauer, J., & Sygmund, K. (1988). The theory of evolution and dynamical systems. London: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
  19. Isaac, R. M., & Walker, J. M. (1988). Group size effects in public goods provision: the voluntary contributions mechanism, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 103, 179–200. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Margolis, H. (1982). Selfishness, altruism and rationality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
  21. Olson, M. (1965). The logic of collective action. Cambridge (Ma.): Harvard University Press. Google Scholar
  22. Palfrey, T. R., & Rosenthal, H. (1988). Private incentives in social dilemmas: The effect of complete information and altruism. Journal of Public Economics, 35(3), 309–332. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Payne, A. (1998). Does the government crowd-out private donations? New evidence from a sample of non-profit firms, Journal of Public Economics, 69, 323–345. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Santagata, W., & Signorello, G. (2000). Contingent valuation of a cultural public good and policy design: The case of “Napoli Musei Aperti”. Journal of Cultural Economics, 24, 181–204. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Segal, L. M., & Weisbrod, B. A. (1998). Interdependence of commercial and donative revenues. In B. Weisbrod (Ed.), To profit or not to profit. The commercial transformation of the nonprofit sector (pp. 105–127). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
  26. Steinberg, B. (1984). Voluntary donations and public expenditures. Working Paper, V.P.I., and S.U. Economics Department, Blacksburg, Virginia. Google Scholar
  27. Sugden, R. (1982). On the economics of philanthropy. Economic Journal, 92(366), 341–350. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sugden, R. (1984). Reciprocity: the supply of public goods through voluntary contributions. Economic Journal, 94(376), 772–787. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Taylor, P., & Jonker, L. (1978). Evolutionarily stable strategies and game dynamics. Mathematical Biosciences, 61, 51–63. Google Scholar
  30. Weisbrod, B. A. (1998). To profit or not to profit. The commercial transformation of the nonprofit sector. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
  31. Weisbrod, B. A., & Dominguez, N. D. (1986). Demand for collective goods in private nonprofit market: can fundraising expenditures help overcome free-riding behavior? Journal of Public Economics, 30(1), 83–95. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and BusinessUniversity of SassariSassariItaly
  2. 2.DADIIUAVVeniceItaly
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsUniversity of VeronaVeronaItaly

Personalised recommendations