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Charitable Giving When Altruism and Similarity are Linked

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  • Julio J. Rotemberg

Abstract

This paper presents a model in which anonymous charitable donations are rationalized by two human tendencies drawn from the psychology literature. The first is people's disproportionate disposition to help those they agree with while the second is the dependence of peoples' self-esteem on the extent to which they perceive that others agree with them. Government spending crowds out the charity that ensues from these forces only modestly. Moreover, people's donations tend to rise when others donate. In some equilibria of the model, poor people give little because they expect donations to come mainly from richer individuals. In others, donations by poor individuals constitute a large fraction of donations and this raises the incentive for poor people to donate. The model predicts that, under some circumstances, charities with identical objectives can differ by obtaining funds from distinct donor groups. The model then provides an interpretation for situations in which the number of charities rises while total donations are stagnant.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17585.

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Date of creation: Nov 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17585

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  1. John List & David Lucking-Reiley, 2002. "The effects of seed money and refunds on charitable giving: Experimental evidence from a university capital campaign," Natural Field Experiments 00301, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus, 2011. "Conspicuous generosity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9), pages 1131-1143.
  3. Aldashev, Gani & Verdier, Thierry, 2010. "Goodwill bazaar: NGO competition and giving to development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 48-63, January.
  4. David C. Ribar & Mark O. Wilhelm, 2002. "Altruistic and Joy-of-Giving Motivations in Charitable Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 425-457, April.
  5. Romano, Richard & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2001. "Why charities announce donations: a positive perspective," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(3), pages 423-447, September.
  6. John A. List, 2011. "The Market for Charitable Giving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 157-80, Spring.
  7. Bilodeau, Marc & Slivinski, Al, 1997. "Rival charities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 449-467, December.
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  1. Why are the poor more generous?
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-02-20 15:22:00

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