Prosocial Spending and Well-Being: Cross-Cultural Evidence for a Psychological Universal
AbstractThis research provides the first support for a possible psychological universal: human beings around the world derive emotional benefits from using their financial resources to help others (prosocial spending). Analyzing survey data from 136 countries, we show that prosocial spending is consistently associated with greater happiness. To test for causality, we conduct experiments within two very different countries (Canada and Uganda) and show that spending money on others has a consistent, causal impact on happiness. In contrast to traditional economic thought—which places self-interest as the guiding principle of human motivation—our findings suggest that the reward experienced from helping others may be deeply ingrained in human nature, emerging in diverse cultural and economic contexts.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16415.
Date of creation: Sep 2010
Date of revision:
Note: PE POL
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
- D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy
- H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
- I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004.
"How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, 07.
- Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2002. "How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
- John F. Helliwell, 2011. "How Can Subjective Well-being Be Improved?," New Directions for Intelligent Government in Canada: Papers in Honour of Ian Stewart, in: Fred Gorbet & Andrew Sharpe (ed.), New Directions for Intelligent Government in Canada: Papers in Honour of Ian Stewart, pages 283-304 Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
- Daniel M. Hungerman, 2011. "The Effect of Education on Religion: Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Laws," NBER Working Papers 16973, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Lara Aknin & Elizabeth Dunn & Michael Norton, 2012. "Happiness Runs in a Circular Motion: Evidence for a Positive Feedback Loop between Prosocial Spending and Happiness," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 347-355, April.
- Diane Reyniers & Richa Bhalla, 2013. "Reluctant altruism and peer pressure in charitable giving," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 8(1), pages 7-15, January.
- Jan-Emmanuel De Neve & Ed Diener & Louis Tay & Cody Xuereb, 2013. "The Objective Benefits of Subjective Well-Being," CEP Discussion Papers dp1236, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.