Preferences for Giving Versus Preferences for Redistribution

Last registered on October 08, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Preferences for Giving Versus Preferences for Redistribution
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0008346
Initial registration date
October 08, 2021
Last updated
October 08, 2021, 4:40 PM EDT

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University of Chicago

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of California, Berkeley
PI Affiliation
George Mason University

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2015-10-26
End date
2017-06-21
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
We report the results of an online experiment studying preferences for giving and preferences for group-wide redistribution in small (4-person) and large (200-person) groups. We find that the desire to engage in voluntary giving decreases significantly with group size. However, voting
for group-wide redistribution is precisely estimated to not depend on group size. Moreover, people’s perception of the size of their reference group is malleable, and affects their desire to give. These results suggest that government programs, such as progressive tax-and-transfer systems, can help satisfy other-regarding preferences for redistribution in a way that creating opportunities for voluntary giving cannot.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Mollerstrom, Johanna, Avner Strulov-Shlain and Dmitry Taubinsky. 2021. "Preferences for Giving Versus Preferences for Redistribution." AEA RCT Registry. October 08. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8346-1.0
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
In our online Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) experiment, a total of 1,600 participants made
incentivized choices as “rich” players, in groups with an equal number of rich and poor players. The
“rich” were endowed with 350 cents and the “poor” were endowed with 10 cents. We varied two key
dimensions of the decision-making environment.
First, half of our participants were part of small groups of 4 people, whereas the other half were
in groups of 200 participants. This was varied between participants.
Second, we introduced within-subject variation in the types of giving decisions. The first type
involved an option for individual giving, with the gift distributed equally among all of the poor
participants. The second type involved an individual giving decision where the gift would be assigned
to one randomly chosen poor participant, but in such a way that no poor participant received a gift
from more than one rich participant. We call both of these first two types of decisions “individual
giving” because a participant’s decision to give does not affect transfers from other rich participants.
This is in contrast to our third type of decision, where the rich participants voted on whether a
transfer should be made from all rich participants to all poor participants.
Additionally, we varied the cost of transfers to the poor within-subject, so that each participant
took part in a total of 9 decisions: 3 decision types × 3 different costs of giving. Finally, we varied
the framing of individual giving to one participant. In one frame we described the recipient as a
“matched partner” while in another frame we described the recipient as a “randomly selected person.”
This manipulation was conducted to test the malleability of perceived group size; in particular to
test whether participants who initially started out in larger groups might perceive themselves to be
in a small group of 2 when the recipient is described as a “matched partner,” and thus would more
willing to give.
Intervention Start Date
2017-02-23
Intervention End Date
2017-06-21

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Giving decisions in each scenario described above.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
First, half of our participants were part of small groups of 4 people, whereas the other half were
in groups of 200 participants. This was varied between participants.
Second, we introduced within-subject variation in the types of giving decisions. The first type
involved an option for individual giving, with the gift distributed equally among all of the poor
participants. The second type involved an individual giving decision where the gift would be assigned
to one randomly chosen poor participant, but in such a way that no poor participant received a gift
from more than one rich participant. We call both of these first two types of decisions “individual
giving” because a participant’s decision to give does not affect transfers from other rich participants.
This is in contrast to our third type of decision, where the rich participants voted on whether a
transfer should be made from all rich participants to all poor participants.
Additionally, we varied the cost of transfers to the poor within-subject, so that each participant
took part in a total of 9 decisions: 3 decision types × 3 different costs of giving. Finally, we varied
the framing of individual giving to one participant. In one frame we described the recipient as a
“matched partner” while in another frame we described the recipient as a “randomly selected person.”
This manipulation was conducted to test the malleability of perceived group size; in particular to
test whether participants who initially started out in larger groups might perceive themselves to be
in a small group of 2 when the recipient is described as a “matched partner,” and thus would more
willing to give.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done on Qualtrics with random number generator.
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
1600 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
1600 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
800 in large groups, 800 in small groups
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of California Berkeley
IRB Approval Date
2017-05-17
IRB Approval Number
2017-04-9822
IRB Name
Harvard University - Area Committee on the Use of Human Subjects
IRB Approval Date
2015-05-08
IRB Approval Number
15-0968
IRB Name
George Mason University - office of research integrity and assurance
IRB Approval Date
2014-11-04
IRB Approval Number
673504-1

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

There are documents in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access to this information.

Request Information

Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
June 12, 2017, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
June 12, 2017, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
1600 individuals
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
1600 completed the survey.
For the main analysis we restrict on those passing a comprehension quiz and satisfying monotonicity in choices (prefer more money over less): 1307
We also do sensitivity analysis with the full sample (1600) and those who passed the quiz but may fail monotonicity (1480).
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Scenario Large full sample passed quiz passed quiz and monotonicity Giving to Many 0 800 755 663 Giving to Many 1 800 725 644 Giving to One Partner 0 516 491 424 Giving to One Partner 1 485 438 394 Giving to One of Many 0 484 452 400 Giving to One of Many 1 515 469 413 Voting on Redistribution 0 600 567 502 Voting on Redistribution 1 600 543 481
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
No
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Abstract
We report the results of an online experiment studying preferences for giving and preferences
for group-wide redistribution in small (4-person) and large (200-person) groups. We find that
the desire to engage in voluntary giving decreases significantly with group size. However, voting
for group-wide redistribution is precisely estimated to not depend on group size. Moreover,
people’s perception of the size of their reference group is malleable, and affects their desire
to give. These results suggest that government programs, such as progressive tax-and-transfer
systems, can help satisfy other-regarding preferences for redistribution in a way that creating
opportunities for voluntary giving cannot.
Citation
Mollerstrom, Johanna and Strulov-Shlain, Avner and Taubinsky, Dmitry, Preferences for Giving Versus Preferences for Redistribution (October 7, 2021). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2021-117, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=

Reports & Other Materials