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Is Altruism Paternalistic?


  • Fredric Jacobsson
  • Magnus Johannesson
  • Lars Borgquist


We test if altruism is paternalistic with respect to health. Subjects can donate money or nicotine patches to a smoking diabetes patient whose willingness to pay for nicotine patches is positive but below the market price. In a between-subjects treatment, average donations are 40% greater in the nicotine patches group. When subjects can donate both nicotine patches and money more than 90% of the donations are given in kind rather than cash. These results are also confirmed in three additional stability experiments that vary the framing, use food stamps instead of money, and use exercise instead of nicotine patches. Copyright 2007 The Author(s). Journal compilation Royal Economic Society 2007.

Suggested Citation

  • Fredric Jacobsson & Magnus Johannesson & Lars Borgquist, 2007. "Is Altruism Paternalistic?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(520), pages 761-781, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:117:y:2007:i:520:p:761-781

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    Cited by:

    1. Ronen Bar-El & Teresa García-Muñoz & Shoshana Neuman & Yossef Tobol, 2013. "The evolution of secularization: cultural transmission, religion and fertility—theory, simulations and evidence," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(3), pages 1129-1174, July.
    2. Jeremiah Hurley & Emmanouil Mentzakis, 2011. "Existence and Magnitude of Health-related Externalities: Evidence from a Choice Experiment," Department of Economics Working Papers 2011-01, McMaster University.
    3. Thomas G. Poder & Jie He, 2016. "Willingness to pay and the sensitivity of willingness to pay for interdisciplinary musculoskeletal clinics: a contingent valuation study in Quebec, Canada," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 337-361, December.
    4. Henrik Andersson & Nicolas Treich, 2011. "The Value of a Statistical Life," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Transport Economics, chapter 17 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Null, C., 2011. "Warm glow, information, and inefficient charitable giving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5-6), pages 455-465, June.
    6. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
    7. Henrik Andersson & Nicolas Treich, 2011. "The Value of a Statistical Life," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Transport Economics, chapter 17 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. Lata Gangadharan & Philip J. Grossman & Kristy Jones, 2014. "Deconstructing Giving: Donor Types and How They Give," Monash Economics Working Papers 53-14, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    9. Dorte Gyrd-Hansen, 2013. "Using the Stated Preference Technique for Eliciting Valuations: The Role of the Payment Vehicle," PharmacoEconomics, Springer, vol. 31(10), pages 853-861, October.
    10. Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2006. "Cost Benefit Rules when Nature Counts," Working Papers in Economics 198, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised 09 May 2006.
    11. Winschel, Evguenia & Zahn, Philipp, 2012. "Effciency Concern under Asymmetric Information," Working Papers 13-07, University of Mannheim, Department of Economics.
    12. Maystre, Nicolas & Olivier, Jacques & Thoenig, Mathias & Verdier, Thierry, 2014. "Product-based cultural change: Is the village global?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 212-230.
    13. Thomas de Hoop & Ricardo Fort & Luuk van Kempen, 2009. "Do people invest in local public goods with long-term benefits? Experimental evidence from a shanty town in peru," Artefactual Field Experiments 00070, The Field Experiments Website.
    14. Marette, Stéphan & Issanchou, Sylvie & Monnery-Patris, Sandrine & Ginon, Emilie & Sutan, Angela, 2016. "Are children more paternalistic than their mothers when choosing snacks?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 61-76.
    15. Null, C., 2011. "Warm glow, information, and inefficient charitable giving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5), pages 455-465.
    16. Hurley, Jeremiah & Mentzakis, Emmanouil, 2013. "Health-related externalities: Evidence from a choice experiment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 671-681.

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