The free rider problem: Experimental evidence

Oliver Kim, Mark Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


We have described a number of 'invalidating factors,' any one of which, if present, could account for the weakness or absence of the free rider problem in the voluntary provision of a public good. When any of these factors is present, the free rider phenomenon is not necessarily an implication of economic theory. These invalidatingg factors have been used as a guide in the construction of an experiment which, by avoiding all such factors, should exhibit the free rider phenomenon. The results of performing the experiment indicate that the free rider hypothesis should not be rejected. The contrast between this result and previous experimental results indicates that some of the factors we have identified will be important in attempting to explain the presence or absence of the free rider phenomenon in any particular situation in which a public good is to be financed by voluntary means.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-24
Number of pages22
JournalPublic Choice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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