game theory; public goods; discrimination
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This paper explores the effects of discrimination on people’s willingness to contribution to public goods. The experiment not only attempts to measure the significance of this partiality, but also attempts to shed light on how discrimination affects this willingness to contribute by testing both the feeling of discrimination and the possibility that discrimination leads to lower payouts. Beyond this, the study acts as an opportunity to further connect the thoughts, behaviors, and political tendencies of social groups to their fiscal decisions.
The experiment tests roughly 120 University of Rhode Island students' willingness to contribute to the construction of a public school through five rounds of a typical game theory game. Prior to the experiment, participants are anonymously randomized into 3 groups: a control group with knowledge of their contribution payout structure and no knowledge of any discriminatory conditions of the other players, a first treatment group identified as a disadvantaged group but with no change in its payouts, and a second treatment group with two sub-groups where one learns that they have been assigned to a disadvantaged population and are made aware of exactly how disproportionate their payout structure is as compared to the other members of their group. The intention of this setup is to identify whether there is a behavioral change in contributions based on the degree of knowledge of the game’s group assignment and payout structure.