Forward-Looking Belief Elicitation Enhances Inter-Generational Beneficence

36 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2020

See all articles by Valentina Bosetti

Valentina Bosetti

Bocconi University; CMCC - Euro Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change

Francis Dennig

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Yale-NUS College

Ning Liu

Beihang University School of Economics and Management

Massimo Tavoni

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Elke Weber

Princeton University

Date Written: June 9, 2020

Abstract

One of the challenges in managing the Earth’s common pool resources, such as a livable climate or the supply of safe drinking water, is to motivate successive generations to make the costly effort not to deplete them out of reasons including inter-generational beneficence. In the context of sequential contributions, inter-generational reciprocity dynamically amplifies low past efforts by decreasing successors’ rates of contribution. The behavioral literature provides few interventions to motivate inter-generational beneficence. We identify a simple intervention that motivates contributions by decision makers who are not beneficiaries of their predecessors effectively disabling the negative side of inter-generational reciprocity. In a large online experiment with 1378 subjects, we show that asking decision makers to forecast future generations’ beneficence considerably increases their rate of contribution (from 46% to over 60%). By shifting decision makers’ attention from the immediate past to the future, the intervention is most effective in enhancing inter-generational beneficence of subjects who were not beneficiaries of their predecessors, effectively neutralizing negative inter-generational reciprocity effects. We provide suggestive evidence that the attentional channel is the main mechanism at work.

JEL Classification: C91, D03, D91, Q54

Suggested Citation

Bosetti, Valentina and Dennig, Francis and Liu, Ning and Tavoni, Massimo and Weber, Elke, Forward-Looking Belief Elicitation Enhances Inter-Generational Beneficence (June 9, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3648287 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3648287

Valentina Bosetti

Bocconi University

Via Gobbi 5
Milan, 20136
Italy

CMCC - Euro Mediterranean Centre for Climate Change

via Augusto Imperatore, 16
Lecce, I-73100
Italy

Francis Dennig

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Yale-NUS College ( email )

12 College Ave West, #01-201
Singapore, 138610
Singapore

Ning Liu (Contact Author)

Beihang University School of Economics and Management ( email )

New main building A1005, 37 Xueyuan Rd.
Beijing, Beijing 100191
China

Massimo Tavoni

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Elke Weber

Princeton University ( email )

22 Chambers Street
Princeton, NJ 08544-0708
United States

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