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Why Volunteer? Evidence on the Role of Altruism, Reputation, and Incentives

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Author Info

  • Carpenter, Jeffrey P.

    ()
    (Middlebury College)

  • Myers, Caitlin Knowles

    ()
    (Middlebury College)

Abstract

Volunteering plays a prominent role in the charitable provision of goods and services, yet we know relatively little about why people engage in such prosocial acts. The list of possible motivations is long, but recent research has focused on altruism, reputational concerns, and material incentives. We present an analysis of a unique data set that combines an experimental measure of altruism, surveyed measures of other factors including reputational concerns, and call records from volunteer firefighters that provide an objective measure of the hours volunteered. Controlling for a variety of other explanations, we find that altruism and reputational concerns are positively associated with the decision to volunteer. Moreover, by utilizing variation in the presence and level of small stipends paid to the firefighters, we find that the positive effect of monetary incentives declines with reputational concerns, supporting a prediction that extrinsic incentives can crowd out prosocial behavior.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3021.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Public Economics, 2010, 94 (11-12), 911-920
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3021

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Keywords: firefighter; reputation; altruism; volunteer;

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References

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  1. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A. & Laury, Susan K., 2002. "Private costs and public benefits: unraveling the effects of altruism and noisy behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 255-276, February.
  2. Andreoni, J., 1990. "An Experimental Test Of The Public Goods Crowding-Out Hypothesis," Working papers 9006, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  3. Andreoni, James A & Miller, John H, 1993. "Rational Cooperation in the Finitely Repeated Prisoner's Dilemma: Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(418), pages 570-85, May.
  4. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
  5. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "Altruism in Anonymous Dictator Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 181-191, October.
  6. Freeman, Richard B, 1997. "Working for Nothing: The Supply of Volunteer Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages S140-66, January.
  7. Palfrey, Thomas R & Prisbrey, Jeffrey E, 1997. "Anomalous Behavior in Public Goods Experiments: How Much and Why?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 829-46, December.
  8. Duncan, Brian, 1999. "Modeling charitable contributions of time and money," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 213-242, May.
  9. 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..
  10. Brown, Eleanor & Lankford, Hamilton, 1992. "Gifts of money and gifts of time estimating the effects of tax prices and available time," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 321-341, April.
  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. Dan Ariely & Anat Bracha & Stephan Meier, 2009. "Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 544-55, March.
  13. Jeffrey Carpenter & Cristina Connolly & Caitlin Myers, 2008. "Altruistic behavior in a representative dictator experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 282-298, September.
  14. Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
  15. Menchik, Paul L. & Weisbrod, Burton A., 1987. "Volunteer labor supply," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 159-183, March.
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Cited by:
  1. de Oliveira, Angela C.M. & Croson, Rachel T.A. & Eckel, Catherine, 2011. "The giving type: Identifying donors," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5), pages 428-435.
  2. Cárdenas, Juan Camilo & Chong, Alberto & Ñopo, Hugo, 2013. "Stated social behavior and revealed actions: Evidence from six Latin American countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 16-33.
  3. Bénabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2009. "Individual and Corporate Social Responsibility," TSE Working Papers 09-109, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  4. Damiano Fiorillo, 2012. "Volunteer work and domain satisfactions: evidence from Italy," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 39(2), pages 97-124, January.
  5. Lorenzo Cappellari & Paolo Ghinetti & Gilberto Turati, 2007. "On Time and Money Donations," CESifo Working Paper Series 2140, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Barr, Abigail & Packard, Truman & Serra, Danila, 2012. "Participatory accountability and collective action : evidence from field experiments in Albanian schools," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6027, The World Bank.
  7. Timothy C. Salmon & Danila Serra, 2013. "Does Social Judgment Diminish Rule Breaking?," CSAE Working Paper Series 2013-05, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  8. Elisabeth Gsottbauer & Jeroen Bergh, 2011. "Environmental Policy Theory Given Bounded Rationality and Other-regarding Preferences," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 49(2), pages 263-304, June.
  9. Miklós Antal & Ardjan Gazheli & Jeroen van den Bergh, 2012. "Behavioral Foundations of Sustainability Transitions," WWWforEurope Working Papers series 3, WWWforEurope.
  10. Damiano Fiorillo, 2009. "Do monetary rewards crowd out intrinsic motivations of volunteers? Some empirical evidence for Italian volunteers," Discussion Papers 3_2009, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.
  11. Fiorillo, Damiano, 2010. "Volunteers and conditions under which crowd-out effect could appear. An empirical evidence of psychological self-determination theory," MPRA Paper 22878, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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