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Altruism: The Importance of being Asked. The Rescue of Jews in Nazi Europe

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  • Federico Varese

    ()
    (Nuffield College, Oxford)

  • Meir Yaish

    ()
    (Nuffield College, Oxford)

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    Abstract

    The rescue of persecuted minorities - such as the Jews in Nazi occupied Europe - is seen in this paper as taking place in a peculiar market. In such a market rescuers face at least two dilemmas. Firstly, they might be willing to help but be uncertain how to go about rescuing. Secondly, they might be unsure over the nature of the request to help. To make a mistake and help "wrong" person could be very costly. Following secondary analysis of the APPBI data on those who rescued Jews (rescuers) and those who did not (non-rescuers) during the Nazi occupation of Europe we find that (a) the first dilemma was solved by a direct request for help from those in need; (b) the second dilemma was solved by helping those who were either known to the rescuers, or sent by a trusted mediators. We thus conclude that the unobserved acts of altruism in society do not account for the potential acts of altruism human beings are capable of. If the market for altruism works more efficiently, more people might be helped.

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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/2260/24varese.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford in its series Oxford University Economic and Social History Series with number _024.

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    Length: 33 pages
    Date of creation: 01 May 1998
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:nuf:esohwp:_024

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    Web page: http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/economics/

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    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.:
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    1. Hans-Joachim Voth, 1997. "Time and Work in Eighteenth-Century London," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _021, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    2. Hans-Joachim Voth & Dan H. Andersen, 1997. "Neutrality and Mediterranean Shipping Under Danish Flag, 1750-1807," Economics Series Working Papers 1997-W18, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    3. David M. Engstrom, 1997. "The Economic Determinants of Ethnic Segregation in Post-War Britain," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _012, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    4. David M. Engstrom, 1997. "The Economic Determinants of Ethnic Segregation in Post-War Britain," Economics Series Working Papers 1997-W12, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    5. Paul A. David, 1997. "Path Dependence and the Quest for Historical Economics: One More chorus of Ballad of QWERTY," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _020, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
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