Pro-Social Behavior, Reciprocity or Both?

45 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2002

See all articles by Bruno S. Frey

Bruno S. Frey

CREMA; University of Basel

Stephan Meier

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Columbia Business School - Management

Date Written: July 2002


Empirical evidence is provided for the importance of non-reciprocal pro-social behavior of individuals in an anonymous, n-person pure public good setting. A unique panel data set of 136,000 observations is matched with an extensive survey. Even under anonymous conditions, a large number of individuals are prepared to donate quite a significant sum of money. Cooperation conditional on giving by specific other persons (reciprocity) is present, but the causal relationship is ambiguous. The manner in which one is asked to donate is crucial. Identification with the organization is also important.

Keywords: Public Goods, Pro-social behavior, Reciprocity, Donation

JEL Classification: H41, D64, Z13

Suggested Citation

Frey, Bruno S. and Meier, Stephan, Pro-Social Behavior, Reciprocity or Both? (July 2002). Available at SSRN:

Bruno S. Frey (Contact Author)

CREMA ( email )

Südstrasse 11
Zurich, CH 8008
+41 44 380 00 78 (Phone)

University of Basel ( email )

Peter Merian-Weg 6
Basel, 4002

Stephan Meier

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston ( email )

600 Atlantic Avenue
Boston, MA 02210
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Columbia Business School - Management ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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