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Charitable Giving as a Gift Exchange – Evidence from a Field Experiment (new title: Gift-Exchange in the Field)

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  • Armin Falk

Abstract

This study reports data from a field experiment that was conducted to investigate the relevance of gift-exchange for charitable giving. Roughly 10,000 solicitation letters were sent to potential donors in the experiment. One third of the letters contained no gift, one third contained a small gift and one third contained a large gift. Whether a potential donor received a letter with or without a gift was randomly determined. We observe strong and systematic effects from including gifts. Compared to the no gift condition, the relative frequency of donations increased by 17 percent if a small gift was included and by 75 percent for a large gift. Consequently, including gifts was highly profitable for the charitable organization. The contribution of this paper is twofold: first, it shows that gift-exchange is important for charitable giving, in addition to the warm-glow motive. Second, the paper confirms the economic relevance of reciprocity by using field data. This extends the current body of research on reciprocity, which is almost exclusively confined to laboratory studies.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 1218.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1218

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Keywords: charitable giving; field experiments; reciprocity;

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References

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  1. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  2. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocitys," IEW - Working Papers 040, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  3. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Warm-Glow versus Cold-Prickle: The Effects of Positive and Negative Framing on Cooperation in Experiments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 1-21, February.
  4. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Akçomak, I. Semih & ter Weel, Bas, 2008. "The Impact of Social Capital on Crime: Evidence from the Netherlands," IZA Discussion Papers 3603, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Francis Kamarz (editor) & Joshua D. Angrist & David M. Blau & Armin Falk & Jean-Marc Robin & Christopher R. Taber, 2006. "How to do empirical economics," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, Fundación SEPI, vol. 30(2), pages 179-206, May.
  3. 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.
  4. Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, 2004. "Social Comparisons and Pro-social Behavior: Testing "Conditional Cooperation" in a Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1717-1722, December.
  5. Philip Brown & Jessica Minty, 2006. "Media Coverage & Charitable Giving After the 2004 Tsunami," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp855, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  6. Fischbacher, Urs & Gächter, Simon, 2006. "Heterogeneous Social Preferences and the Dynamics of Free Riding in Public Goods," IZA Discussion Papers 2011, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Rachel Croson & Enrique Fatas & Tibor Neugebauer, 2006. "An Experimental Analysis Of Conditional Cooperation," Working Papers. Serie AD, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie) 2006-24, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  8. Frederick van der Ploeg, 2004. "The Welfare State, Redistribution and the Economy, Reciprocal Altruism, Consumer Rivalry and Second Best," CESifo Working Paper Series 1234, CESifo Group Munich.

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