Be a Good Samaritan to a Good Samaritan: Field evidence of other-regarding preferences in China

Simon Chang, T.S. Dee, C.W. Tse, L. Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

© 2016 Elsevier Inc.We conducted a large-scale lost letter experiment in Beijing, a megacity with > 21 million residents, to test if the observed altruistic attribute of the letter recipient would induce more passersby to return the lost letters. The treatment letters were addressed to a nationally renowned charitable organization in China, while the control letters were intended to an invented individual. A total of 832 ready-to-be-posted letters were distributed in 208 communities across eight districts in the city. The overall return rate was 13%. Yet, the return rate of the treatment letters (17%) was nearly twice as high as that of the control letters (9%). The finding adds large-scale field experiment evidence in support of the other-regarding preferences theory. In addition, we also found that the lost letters were more likely to be returned if they were dropped in communities with a relatively higher income or a postal box located closer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-33
JournalChina Economic Review
Volume41
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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China
Other-regarding preferences
Preference theory
Experiment
Rate of return
Income
Residents
Field experiment
Beijing

Cite this

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Be a Good Samaritan to a Good Samaritan: Field evidence of other-regarding preferences in China. / Chang, Simon; Dee, T.S.; Tse, C.W.; Yu, L.

In: China Economic Review, Vol. 41, 2016, p. 23-33.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Be a Good Samaritan to a Good Samaritan: Field evidence of other-regarding preferences in China

AU - Chang, Simon

AU - Dee, T.S.

AU - Tse, C.W.

AU - Yu, L.

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

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AB - © 2016 Elsevier Inc.We conducted a large-scale lost letter experiment in Beijing, a megacity with > 21 million residents, to test if the observed altruistic attribute of the letter recipient would induce more passersby to return the lost letters. The treatment letters were addressed to a nationally renowned charitable organization in China, while the control letters were intended to an invented individual. A total of 832 ready-to-be-posted letters were distributed in 208 communities across eight districts in the city. The overall return rate was 13%. Yet, the return rate of the treatment letters (17%) was nearly twice as high as that of the control letters (9%). The finding adds large-scale field experiment evidence in support of the other-regarding preferences theory. In addition, we also found that the lost letters were more likely to be returned if they were dropped in communities with a relatively higher income or a postal box located closer.

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