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The Empirical Analysis of Transfer Motives

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  • Schokkaert, Erik

Abstract

The empirical economic literature covers many different forms of pro-social behaviour going from anonymous charitable contributions to caring for an ageing parent or buying Christmas gifts. The chapter focuses on the meta-questions concerning the motivations underlying this behaviour. While the "public goods"-model of altruism has played a pivotal role in the economic work, the discussion in the chapter is structured around a simple list of motivations, derived from the psychological literature. Altruism (or empathy) is only one of the many motivations leading to voluntary transfers. Transfers may also follow from a feeling of duty or because the donor wants to obey social norms. They may be part of reciprocal arrangements, which finally are in the self-interest of all the parties involved. They may reflect pure materialistic egoism or a desire to gain social prestige. The survey of the empirical literature makes a distinction between one-way transfers where there is no real social interaction between the donor and the recipient and two-way transfers, i.e. interpersonal gifts that take place in a non-anonymous setting. The former refer to contributions of money and time to charities, the latter refer to interhousehold and intrafamily transfers. It is argued that the simple oppositions between "pure altruism" and "warm glow" or between "altruism" and "exchange" are insufficient, and that we should more explicitly think about how to distinguish the different "warm glow" or "exchange"-interpretations from one another. Traditional economic methods of "indirect testing" for motivational differences will probably be insufficient for this task. A better insight into the different motivations for pro-social behaviour is important for its own sake. It is also necessary for understanding the consequences of government intervention (the crowding-out effect) or the behaviour of charities.

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This chapter was published in:

  • S. Kolm & Jean Mercier Ythier (ed.), 2006. "Handbook of the Economics of Giving, Altruism and Reciprocity," Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1, 00.
    This item is provided by Elsevier in its series Handbook on the Economics of Giving, Reciprocity and Altruism with number 1-02.

    Handle: RePEc:eee:givchp:1-02

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/bookseriesdescription.cws_home/BS_HE/description

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    Cited by:
    1. Marii Paskov & Caroline Dewilde, 2012. "GINI DP 33: Income Inequality and Solidarity in Europe," GINI Discussion Papers 33, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    2. Säve-Söderbergh, Jenny, 2005. "Who is Willing to Let Ethics Guide His Economic Decision-Making? Evidence from Individual Investments in Ethical Funds," Working Paper Series 7/2005, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    3. Matthieu CLEMENT (GREThA), 2007. "The relation between private transfers and household income on looking at altruism, exchange and risk-sharing hypotheses. An empirical analysis applied to Russia (In French)," Cahiers du GREThA 2007-08, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée.
    4. Nizalova, Olena Y., 2010. "The Wage Elasticity of Informal Care Supply: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study," IZA Discussion Papers 5192, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Hannes Koppel & Günther G. Schulze, 2009. "On the Channels of Pro-Social Behavior Evidence from a natural field experiment," Jena Economic Research Papers 2009-102, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
    6. Brown, Sarah & Harris, Mark N. & Taylor, Karl, 2012. "Modelling charitable donations to an unexpected natural disaster: Evidence from the U.S. Panel Study of Income Dynamics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 97-110.
    7. repec:aia:ginidp:dp33 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Alessandra Casarico & Luca Micheletto & Alessandro Sommacal, 2011. "Intergenerational Transmission of Skills during Childhood and Optimal Public Policy," CESifo Working Paper Series 3343, CESifo Group Munich.
    9. Mitrut, Andreea & Nordblom, Katarina, 2010. "Social norms and gift behavior: Theory and evidence from Romania," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(8), pages 998-1015, November.
    10. Hannes Koppel & Günther G. Schulze, 2008. "Inefficient but effective? A field experiment on the effectiveness of direct and indirect transfer mechanisms," Discussion Paper Series 2, Department of International Economic Policy, University of Freiburg, revised Mar 2008.
    11. Kwak, Sungil, 2011. "The Impact of Taxes on Charitable Giving: Empirical Evidence from the Korean Labor and Income Panel Study," MPRA Paper 36845, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Helms, Sara E. & Thornton, Jeremy P., 2012. "The influence of religiosity on charitable behavior: A COPPS investigation," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 373-383.
    13. Hannes Koppel & Günther Schulze, 2013. "The Importance of the Indirect Transfer Mechanism for Consumer Willingness to Pay for Fair Trade Products—Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 36(4), pages 369-387, December.

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