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Why volunteer? Evidence on the role of altruism, image, and incentives

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  • Carpenter, Jeffrey
  • Myers, Caitlin Knowles

Abstract

We examine motivations for prosocial behavior using new data on volunteer firefighters that contain a dictator game based measure of altruism, surveyed measures of other behavioral factors, and call records that provide an objective measure of time spent volunteering. Controlling for a variety of other explanations, we find that the decision to volunteer is positively correlated with altruism as well as with concern for social reputation or "image." Moreover, by utilizing variation in the presence and level of small stipends paid to the firefighters, we find that the positive effect of monetary incentives declines with image concerns, supporting a prediction that extrinsic incentives can crowd out image motivation for prosocial behavior.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 94 (2010)
Issue (Month): 11-12 (December)
Pages: 911-920

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:94:y:2010:i:11-12:p:911-920

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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Keywords: Volunteer Altruism Image Extrinsic motivation Firefighter;

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References

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  1. James Andreoni & John H Miller, 1997. "Rational Cooperation in the finitely repeated prisoner's dilemma: experimental evidence," Levine's Working Paper Archive 670, David K. Levine.
  2. Carpenter, Jeffrey & Myers, Caitlin Knowles, 2010. "Why volunteer? Evidence on the role of altruism, image, and incentives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 911-920, December.
  3. Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
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  7. Ziemek, Susanne, 2006. "Economic analysis of volunteers' motivations--A cross-country study," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 532-555, June.
  8. Freeman, Richard Barry, 1997. "Working for Nothing: The Supply of Volunteer Labor," Scholarly Articles 4632239, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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  13. Thomas R. Palfrey & Jeffrey Prisbrey, 2010. "Anomalous Behavior in Public Goods Experiments: How Much and Why?," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1380, David K. Levine.
  14. James Andreoni & B. Douglas Bernheim, 2007. "Social Image and the 50-50 Norm: A Theoretical and Experimental Analysis of Audience Effects," Discussion Papers 07-030, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  15. Dan Ariely & Anat Bracha & Stephan Meier, 2007. "Doing good or doing well? Image motivation and monetary incentives in behaving prosocially," Working Papers 07-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
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  17. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "Altruism in Anonymous Dictator Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 181-191, October.
  18. Jeffrey Carpenter & Cristina Connolly & Caitlin Myers, 2008. "Altruistic behavior in a representative dictator experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 282-298, September.
  19. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
  20. Wilhelm, Mark Ottoni & Brown, Eleanor & Rooney, Patrick M. & Steinberg, Richard, 2008. "The intergenerational transmission of generosity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 2146-2156, October.
  21. Palfrey, Thomas R & Prisbrey, Jeffrey E, 1997. "Anomalous Behavior in Public Goods Experiments: How Much and Why?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 829-46, December.
  22. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
  23. Brown, Eleanor & Lankford, Hamilton, 1992. "Gifts of money and gifts of time estimating the effects of tax prices and available time," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 321-341, April.
  24. Duncan, Brian, 1999. "Modeling charitable contributions of time and money," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 213-242, May.
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  1. Why volunteer?
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2010-05-20 14:37:00
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