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The Role of Expectations and Gender in Altruism

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  • Rigdon, Mary L.
  • Levine, Adam Seth

Abstract

A central question in the study of altruism has been whether there is a systematic gender difference in giving behavior. Most experimental economics research has found that women are more generous than men. Evidence also suggests that gender differences depend upon the price of giving: males are more altruistic when the price of giving is low, while females are more altruistic when the price of giving is high. However, in the modified dictator game, a key variable in one’s decision to give is what one expects to receive. Systematic differences in those expectations may well contribute to systematic differences in altruistic behavior. We show that these expectations drive an important and widely reported result. When these expectations are homegrown, we replicate the finding. When expectations of receiving are uniform rather than homegrown, gender differences in price sensitivity disappear: males and females give equal amounts. This suggests that it is gender differences in expectations about others’ giving — not differences in tastes for fairness — that explains the previous results.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 19372.

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Date of creation: 09 Dec 2009
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:19372

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Keywords: altruism; charitable giving; dictator game; gender differences; experiment;

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References

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  1. 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.
  2. Jeffrey P. Carpenter, 2005. "Endogenous Social Preferences," Review of Radical Political Economics, Union for Radical Political Economics, vol. 37(1), pages 63-84, March.
  3. Dean Karlan & John A. List, 2006. "Does Price Matter in Charitable Giving? Evidence from a Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment," Working Papers 1, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. Rigdon, Mary & Ishii, Keiko & Watabe, Motoki & Kitayama, Shinobu, 2008. "Minimal Social Cues in the Dictator Game," MPRA Paper 8439, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Walter O. Simmons & Rosemarie Emanuele, 2007. "Male-female giving differentials: are women more altruistic?," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 34(6), pages 534-550, November.
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  13. Bolton, Gary E. & Katok, Elena, 1995. "An experimental test for gender differences in beneficent behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 48(3-4), pages 287-292, June.
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  18. repec:feb:artefa:0046 is not listed on IDEAS
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