The Behavioral Economics of Altruism, Reciprocity and Transfers within Families and Rural Communities: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa

Li-Wei Chao, University of Pennsylvania

This study examined patterns of transfers between family and non-family members when they played the Trust Games (which allowed for givings and reciprocations) and the Dictator Games (involving only givings), followed by surveys. A total of 240 individuals from 60 families in 20 villages in rural Malawi participated. Strong predictors of transfers behavior during the Trust Game were the amount of expected reciprocation, prior trusting behavior, and belief that others were trustworthy. Wealthier participants gave less but reciprocated more and those who thought the other player was poorer gave more. Participants in better physical health gave more and those in better mental health reciprocated more during the Trust Game. Participants who thought they had HIV and had high felt-stigma gave less but reciprocated more during the Trust Game. In addition to expectations of reciprocity, wealth, health, HIV and stigma were important predictors of transfers behavior.

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Presented in Session 70: Intergenerational Transfers: New Evidence from Developing Countries