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Prosocial behavior and policy spillovers: A multi-activity approach

Journal article
Authors Claes Ek
Published in Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Volume 149
Pages 356-371
ISSN 0167-2681
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Economics
Pages 356-371
Language en
Keywords Public goods, Prosocial behavior, Moral licensing, Self-image, warm-glow, moral motivation, public-policy, self-image, goods, similarity, altruism
Subject categories Economics


Observing that people who wish to engage in prosocial behavior are often presented with more than one means to the same end, we develop a model in which agents may contribute to a single public good through a range of different activities. We use this model to make two points. First, noting that effort on one activity has been argued to reduce (moral licensing) as well as increase (moral consistency) effort on other activities, we derive sufficient conditions under which policy to facilitate one activity partially crowds out effort on other activities. Second, we use an example to argue that a given single-activity model may be extended to multiple activities in several alternative ways, and that not all generalizations need reproduce the ideas and results of the original model; in general, careful thinking is needed to determine which multi-activity model is appropriate. (C) 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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