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Does One Contribution Come at the Expense of Another? Empirical Evidence on Substitution Between Charitable Donations

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  • David A. Reinstein

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Abstract

In this paper I estimate and describe the extent to which an individual's charitable donation to one cause displaces his or her giving to another cause. I use the 2001 and 2003 waves of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), in conjunction with the Center on Philanthropy Panel Study (COPPS). This is the first useful major source of panel data on giving to multiple causes. I control for individual-fixed effects and use "college-reunion year" as an instrument for giving to education. I find an economically and statistically significant level of substitution. I also analyze the net effect of shocks to giving to one category on giving to all other categories - testing the extremes of a fixed purse (perfect crowding-out) and zero-crowding-out. While the uninstrumented regressions can generally reject perfect crowding out, the instrumental results (with larger error bounds) do not. I also find a greater level of substitution for "large givers" than for those who make smaller donations. This points to a model with heterogenous motivations for giving: small givers may be driven by shocks and reputation concerns, while for larger givers charities are imperfect substitutes in providing "warm glow" utility.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Essex, Department of Economics in its series Economics Discussion Papers with number 618.

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Date of creation: 04 Oct 2006
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Handle: RePEc:esx:essedp:618

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References

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  1. Craig Landry & Andreas Lange & John A. List & Michael K. Price & Nicholas G. Rupp, 2005. "Toward an Understanding of the Economics of Charity: Evidence from a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 11611, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. van Diepen, M. & Donkers, A.C.D. & Franses, Ph.H.B.F., 2006. "Irritation Due to Direct Mailings from Charities," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2006-029-MKT, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus Uni.
  3. Payne, A. Abigail, 1998. "Does the government crowd-out private donations? New evidence from a sample of non-profit firms," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 323-345, September.
  4. Hungerman, Daniel M., 2005. "Are church and state substitutes? Evidence from the 1996 welfare reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2245-2267, December.
  5. Martin, Richard & Randal, John, 2008. "How is donation behaviour affected by the donations of others?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 228-238, July.
  6. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J. & Johnston, Rachel M., 2005. "An experimental test of the crowding out hypothesis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(8), pages 1543-1560, August.
  7. Frey, Bruno S. & Meier, Stephan, 2004. "Pro-social behavior in a natural setting," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 65-88, May.
  8. Wilhelm, Mark O., 2006. "New data on charitable giving in the PSID," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 26-31, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Null, C., 2011. "Warm glow, information, and inefficient charitable giving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5-6), pages 455-465, June.
  2. Harvey S. Rosen & Stephen T. Sims, 2010. "Altruistic Behavior and Habit Formation," Working Papers 1244, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  3. David Reinstein, 2007. "Substitution Between (and Motivations for) Charitable Contributions: An Experimental Study," Economics Discussion Papers 648, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  4. Meer, Jonathan, 2011. "Brother, can you spare a dime? Peer pressure in charitable solicitation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 926-941, August.
  5. Null, C., 2011. "Warm glow, information, and inefficient charitable giving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5), pages 455-465.

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