January 1, 1985

The Experimental Search for Free Riders

Some Reflections and Observations
  • Richard Wagner

    Distinguished Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics
  • Thomas S. McCaleb

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We think that experimental studies on free riding can provide valuable evidence on a subject that might otherwise not be amenable to empirical research. Results from experiments conducted in 'purified' settings, however, still leave us a long way from understanding the social processes through which real world choices are made. A greater understanding of these processes requires an examination of the evolution of the institutions of social choice to determine why the relatively uncontaminated choice settings represented by the recent experimental research have often not survived the test of time while the relatively contaminated settings explored by others seem to have greater survival value.

Read the article at SpringerLink.