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Do Race and Fairness Matter in Generosity? Evidence from a Nationally Representative Charity Experiment

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  • Fong, Christina M.

    (Carnegie Mellon University)

  • Luttmer, Erzo F. P.

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

We present a dictator game experiment where the recipients are local charities that serve the poor. Donors consist of approximately 1000 participants from a nationally representative respondent panel that is maintained by a private survey research firm, Knowledge Networks. We randomly manipulate the perceived race and worthiness of the charity recipients by showing respondents an audiovisual presentation about the recipients. The experiment yields three main findings. First, we find significant racial bias in perceptions of worthiness: respondents rate recipients of their own racial group as more worthy. Second, respondents give significantly more when the recipients are described as more worthy. These findings may lead one to expect that respondents would also give more generously when shown pictures of recipients belonging to their own racial group. However, our third result shows that this is not the case; despite our successfully manipulating perceptions of race, giving does not respond significantly to recipient race. Thus, while our respondents do seem to rate ingroup members as more worthy, they appear to overcome this bias when it comes to giving.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp09-014.

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Date of creation: Jun 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp09-014

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Cited by:
  1. Pfarr, Christian & Ulrich, Volker, 2011. "Discrete-Choice-Experimente zur Ermittlung der Präferenzen für Umverteilung
    [Discrete-Choice-Experiments to elicit individuals' preferences for redistribution]
    ," MPRA Paper 31707, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Etang, Alvin & Fielding, David & Knowles, Stephen, 2012. "Giving to Africa and perceptions of poverty," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 819-832.
  3. Pelligra, Vittorio & Stanca, Luca, 2013. "To give or not to give? Equity, efficiency and altruistic behavior in an artefactual field experiment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 1-9.

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