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Does Where You Stand Depend on Where You Sit? Tithing Donations and Self-Serving Beliefs

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  • Michael R. Ransom
  • Gordon B. Dahl

Abstract

Economists and psychologists argue that individuals skew personal beliefs to accord with their own interests. To test for the presence of self-serving beliefs, we surveyed 1,200 members of the Mormon Church about tithing. A tithe is a voluntary contribution equal to 10 percent of income. Since respondents must decide privately what income items to tithe, we observe how the income definition depends on an individual's religious and financial incentives. We find surprisingly little evidence that an individual's financial situation influences beliefs about what counts as income for the tithe. However, ambiguity increases the role for self-serving biases.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.89.4.703
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 89 (1999)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 703-727

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:89:y:1999:i:4:p:703-727

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.89.4.703
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References

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  1. Linda Babcock & George Loewenstein, 1997. "Explaining Bargaining Impasse: The Role of Self-Serving Biases," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 109-126, Winter.
  2. Gordon B. Dahl, 2002. "The 10% Flat Tax: Tithing and the Definition of Income," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(1), pages 120-137, January.
  3. Lewellen, Wilbur G. & Park, Taewoo & Ro, Byung T., 1996. "Self-serving behavior in managers' discretionary information disclosure decisions," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 227-251, April.
  4. Rabin, Matthew, 1995. "Moral Preferences, Moral Constraints, and Self-Serving Biases," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt97r6t5vf, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  5. Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. "Reference points, anchors, norms, and mixed feelings," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 296-312, March.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Felix Ebeling, 2013. "On the role of endowment heterogeneity and ambiguity for conditional cooperation," Working Paper Series in Economics 58, University of Cologne, Department of Economics.
  2. Gaechter,S. & Riedl,A., 2002. "Moral property rights in bargaining," Working Papers 330, Bielefeld University, Center for Mathematical Economics.
  3. Kohnz, Simone, 2006. "Self-Serving Biases in Bargaining," Discussion Papers in Economics 899, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  4. Brandt, Urs Steiner, 2004. "Unilateral actions, the case of international environmental problems," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 373-391, December.
  5. Asheim, Geir B. & Helland, Leif & Hovi, Jon & Hoyland, Bjorn, 2008. "Self-serving Dictators," Memorandum 26/2008, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  6. Cannon, Edmund & Cipriani, Giam Pietro, 2006. "Euro-Illusion: A Natural Experiment," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 38(5), pages 1391-1403, August.
  7. Ronald Bosman & Heike Hennig-Schmidt & Frans Winden, 2006. "Exploring group decision making in a power-to-take experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 35-51, April.
  8. Gruber, Jonathan, 2004. "Pay or pray? The impact of charitable subsidies on religious attendance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2635-2655, December.
  9. Friedrich Heinemann, 2011. "Economic crisis and morale," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 35-49, August.
  10. Andreas Lange & Andreas Löschel & Carsten Vogt & Andreas Ziegler, 2009. "On the Self-interested Use of Equity in International Climate Negotiations," NBER Working Papers 14930, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Baris Yoruk, 2012. "The impact of charitable subsidies on religious giving and attendance: Evidence from panel data," Discussion Papers 12-06, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  12. Ronald Bosman & Heike Hennig-Schmidt & Frans vanWinden, 2002. "Exploring Group Behavior in a Power-to-Take Video Experiment," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse7_2002, University of Bonn, Germany, revised May 2002.
  13. S. Brock Blomberg & Thomas DeLeire & Gregory D. Hess, 2006. "The (After) Life-Cycle Theory of Religious Contributions," CESifo Working Paper Series 1854, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Simon Gächter & Arno Riedl, 2005. "Moral Property Rights in Bargaining with Infeasible Claims," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(2), pages 249-263, February.
  15. Charness, Gary B & Haruvy, Ernan, 1999. "Self-Serving Biases: Evidence From A Simulated Labour Relationship," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt1vs8w2k7, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  16. Hennighausen, Tanja & Heinemann, Friedrich & Bischoff, Ivo, 2008. "Individual Determinants of Social Fairness Assessments: The Case of Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 08-063, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.

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