Why Volunteer? Evidence on the Role of Altruism, Reputation, and Incentives
AbstractVolunteering 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 InfoPaper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3021.
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
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Other versions of this item:
- Caitlin Knowles Myers & Jeffrey Carpenter, 2007. "Why Volunteer? Evidence on the Role of Altruism, Reputation, and Incentives," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0712, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
- C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
- D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
- J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
- D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy
- D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2007-09-24 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2007-09-24 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-EXP-2007-09-24 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-SOC-2007-09-24 (Social Norms & Social Capital)
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