PARC Working Paper Series

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Chao, Li-Wei and Hans-Peter Kohler. 2007. "The Behavioral Economics of Altruism, Reciprocity, and Transfers within Families and Rural Communities: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa." PARC Working Paper Series, WPS 07-01.


Transfers between strangers, neighbors, families, and spouses were examined using Triple Dictator Games (TDG, involving only givings) and Trust Games (TG, involving both givings and reciprocations) among 240 participants from 60 families in 20 villages in rural Malawi. In TDG, more was sent by those who were older, male, in better physical health, financially poorer, or frequent lenders of personal items, but less was sent to neighbors by participants with higher HIV felt stigma. In TG, higher transfers were associated with the expected amount of reciprocation, amount sent in TDG, and prior lending behavior; participants with high HIV stigmatization attitudes gave less, especially to their own families and spouses. Higher reciprocation in TG was associated with better mental health. Those with HIV stigmatization attitudes reciprocated differently, depending on whether their game-partner was the neighbor, family, or spouse. Social distance, physical and mental health, and HIV-stigma were predictors of transfers behavior.


Transfers, Triple Dictator Games, Trust Games, Malawi, HIV/AIDS, Game theory, Transfer behavior



Date Posted: 11 March 2008