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Field experiments in charitable contribution: The impact of social influence on the voluntary provision of public goods

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  • Rachel Croson
  • Jen Shang

Abstract

We study the effect of social information on the voluntary provision of public goods. Competing theories predict that others[1] contributions might be either substitutes or complements to one’s own. We demonstrate a positive social information effect on individual contributions, supporting theories of complementarities. We find the most influential level of social information is drawn from the 90th to 95th percentile of previous contributions. We furthermore find the effect to be significant for new members but not for renewing members. In the most effective condition, social information increases contributions by 12% ($13). These increased contributions do not crowd out future contributions.

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File URL: http://karlan.yale.edu/fieldexperiments/papers/00323.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Natural Field Experiments with number 00323.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00323

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Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

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References

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  1. Sugden, Robert, 1984. "Reciprocity: The Supply of Public Goods through Voluntary Contributions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376), pages 772-87, December.
  2. Timothy N. Cason & Vai-Lam Mui, 1998. "Social Influence in the Sequential Dictator Game," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-37, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  3. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jšrgen W. Weibull, 1999. "Social Norms And Economic Incentives In The Welfare State," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35, February.
  4. Catherine Eckel, 2005. "Subsidizing Charitable Contributions: A Field Test Comparing Matching and Rebate Subsidies," Working Papers 2098, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. Fraser, Cynthia & Hite, Robert E & Sauer, Paul L, 1988. " Increasing Contributions in Solicitation Campaigns: The Use of Large and Small Anchorpoints," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 284-87, September.
  6. John A. List & David Lucking-Reiley, 2002. "The Effects of Seed Money and Refunds on Charitable Giving: Experimental Evidence from a University Capital Campaign," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 215-233, February.
  7. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  8. Bohnet, Iris & Zeckhauser, Richard, 2003. "Social Comparisons in Ultimatum Bargaining," Working Paper Series rwp03-028, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  9. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2003. "Rebate versus matching: does how we subsidize charitable contributions matter?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(3-4), pages 681-701, March.
  10. Desmet, Pierre & Feinberg, Fred M., 2003. "Ask and ye shall receive: The effect of the appeals scale on consumers' donation behavior," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 349-376, June.
  11. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-58, December.
  12. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-93, Nov.-Dec..
  13. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-77, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Francisco Alpizar & Fredrik Carlsson & Olof Johansson-Stenman, 2008. "Does context matter more for hypothetical than for actual contributions? Evidence from a natural field experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 299-314, September.
  2. Fredrik Carlsson & Jorge García & Åsa Löfgren, 2010. "Conformity and the Demand for Environmental Goods," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 47(3), pages 407-421, November.
  3. Kjell Arne Brekke & Olof Johansson-Stenman, 2008. "The behavioural economics of climate change," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(2), pages 280-297, Summer.
  4. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2008. "Anonymity, reciprocity, and conformity: Evidence from voluntary contributions to a national park in Costa Rica," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1047-1060, June.

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