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Truth in giving: Experimental evidence on the welfare effects of informed giving to the poor

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  • M. Fong, Christina
  • Oberholzer-Gee, Felix
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    Abstract

    It is often difficult for donors to predict the value of charitable giving because they know little about their recipients. This concern is particularly acute when making contributions to organizations that serve heterogeneous populations. Prior research shows that donors are more generous if they know their assistance benefits a group they like. But we know little about the demand for such information. To start closing this gap, we study transfers of income to real-world poor people in dictator games. Our dictators can purchase signals about why the recipients are poor. We find that a third of the dictators are willing to pay money to learn more about their recipient. Dictators who acquire information mostly use it to withhold resources from less-preferred types, leading to a drastic decline in aggregate transfers. With endogenous information about recipients, we find that all types of poor recipients are worse off.

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    Bibliographic Info

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

    Volume (Year): 95 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 5 ()
    Pages: 436-444

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:5:p:436-444

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

    Related research

    Keywords: Charitable giving; Dictator games; Redistribution; Altruism; Fairness;

    References

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    1. Stefano DellaVigna & John List & Ulrike Malmendier, 2012. "Testing for altruism and social pressure in charitable giving," Natural Field Experiments 00137, The Field Experiments Website.
    2. Todd L. Cherry & Peter Frykblom & Jason F. Shogren, 2002. "Hardnose the Dictator," Working Papers 02-06, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
    3. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "Altruism in Anonymous Dictator Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 181-191, October.
    4. Corneo, Giacomo & Fong, Christina M., 2008. "What's the monetary value of distributive justice," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 289-308, February.
    5. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2005. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," NBER Working Papers 11535, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Oberholzer-Gee Felix & Eichenberger Reiner, 2008. "Fairness in Extended Dictator Game Experiments," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-21, July.
    7. Fong, Christina, 2001. "Social preferences, self-interest, and the demand for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 225-246, November.
    8. Corneo, Giacomo & Gruner, Hans Peter, 2002. "Individual preferences for political redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 83-107, January.
    9. Dana, Jason & Cain, Daylian M. & Dawes, Robyn M., 2006. "What you don't know won't hurt me: Costly (but quiet) exit in dictator games," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 100(2), pages 193-201, July.
    10. Piketty, Thomas, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-84, August.
    11. Alberto Alesina & Edward Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Why Doesn't the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(2), pages 187-278.
    12. Jason Dana & Roberto Weber & Jason Kuang, 2007. "Exploiting moral wiggle room: experiments demonstrating an illusory preference for fairness," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 67-80, October.
    13. Fong, Christina M. & Bowles, Samuel & Gintis, Herbert, 2006. "Strong reciprocity and the welfare state," Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism, Elsevier.
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    Cited by:
    1. Krasteva, Silvana & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2014. "Reprint of: (Un)Informed charitable giving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 108-120.
    2. Krasteva, Silvana & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2013. "(Un)Informed charitable giving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 14-26.
    3. Youngwan Kim & Peter Nunnenkamp & Chandreyee Bagchi, 2014. "Natural Disasters and Private Donations to NGOs: The Effects of Being Present after the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean," Kiel Working Papers 1890, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

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