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The impact of athletic performance on alumni giving: An analysis of microdata

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  • Meer, Jonathan
  • Rosen, Harvey S.

Abstract

An ongoing controversy in the literature on the economics of higher education centers on whether the success of a school's athletic program affects alumni donations. This paper uses a unique data set to investigate this issue. The data contain detailed information about donations made by alumni of a selective research university as well as a variety of their economic and demographic characteristics. One important question is how to characterize the success of an athletic program. We focus not only on the performance of the most visible teams, football and basketball, but also on the success of the team on which he or she played as an undergraduate. One of our key findings is that the impact of athletic success on donations differs for men and women. When a male graduate's former team wins its conference championship, his donations for general purposes increase by about 7% and his donations to the athletic program increase by about the same percentage. Football and basketball records generally have small and statistically insignificant effects; in some specifications, a winning basketball season reduces donations. For women there is no statistically discernible effect of a former team's success on current giving; as is the case for men, the impacts of football and basketball, while statistically significant in some specifications, are not important in magnitude. Another novel result is that for males, varsity athletes whose teams were successful when they were undergraduates subsequently make larger donations to the athletic program. For example, if a male alumnus's team won its conference championship during his senior year, his subsequent giving to the athletic program is about 8% a year higher, ceteris paribus.

Suggested Citation

  • Meer, Jonathan & Rosen, Harvey S., 2009. "The impact of athletic performance on alumni giving: An analysis of microdata," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 287-294, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:28:y:2009:i:3:p:287-294
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    1. Monks, James, 2003. "Patterns of giving to one's alma mater among young graduates from selective institutions," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 121-130, April.
    2. Sarah E. Turner & Lauren A. Meserve & William G. Bowen, 2001. "Winning and Giving: Football Results and Alumni Giving at Selective Private Colleges and Universities," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 82(4), pages 812-826, December.
    3. James Andreoni & Lise Vesterlund, 2001. "Which is the Fair Sex? Gender Differences in Altruism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 293-312.
    4. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Christopher L. Smith, 2001. "The Sources and Uses of Annual Giving at Private Research Universities," NBER Working Papers 8307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Paul W. Grimes & George A. Chressanthis, 1994. "Alumni Contributions to Academics," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(1), pages 27-40, January.
    6. Lawrence M. Kahn, 2007. "Markets: Cartel Behavior and Amateurism in College Sports," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 209-226, Winter.
    7. Clotfelter, C. T., 2003. "Alumni giving to elite private colleges and universities," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 109-120, April.
    8. Jonathan Meer & Harvey S. Rosen, 2007. "Altruism and the Child-Cycle of Alumni Giving," NBER Working Papers 13152, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Brendan M. Cunningham & Carlena K. Cochi-Ficano, 2002. "The Determinants of Donative Revenue Flows from Alumni of Higher Education: An Empirical Inquiry," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(3), pages 540-569.
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    Cited by:

    1. Steven Bednar & Dora Gicheva, 2018. "Career Implications of Having a Female-Friendly Supervisor," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 71(2), pages 426-457, March.
    2. Tabakovic, Haris & Wollmann, Thomas G., 2019. "The impact of money on science: Evidence from unexpected NCAA football outcomes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 178(C).
    3. Meer, Jonathan, 2011. "Brother, can you spare a dime? Peer pressure in charitable solicitation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 926-941.
    4. Avery, Christopher & Cadman, Brian & Cassar, Gavin, 2016. "Academics vs. Athletics: Career Concerns for NCAA Division I Coaches," Working Paper Series 16-013, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    5. Niebler, Sarah & Urban, Carly, 2017. "Does negative advertising affect giving behavior? Evidence from campaign contributions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 15-26.
    6. Jeffrey R. Brown & Stephen G. Dimmock & Scott Weisbenner, 2012. "The Supply of and Demand for Charitable Donations to Higher Education," NBER Chapters, in: How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education, pages 151-174, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Jonathan Meer & Harvey S. Rosen, 2011. "Does Generosity Beget Generosity? Alumni Giving and Undergraduate Financial Aid," Working Papers 1361, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    8. Meer, Jonathan & Rosen, Harvey S., 2012. "Does generosity beget generosity? Alumni giving and undergraduate financial aid," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 890-907.
    9. repec:pri:cepsud:224rosen is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Hurwitz, Michael, 2011. "The impact of legacy status on undergraduate admissions at elite colleges and universities," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 480-492, June.
    11. Craig Garthwaite & Jordan Keener & Matthew Notowidigdo & Nicole Ozminkowski, 2020. "Who Profits from Amateurism? Rent-Sharing in Modern College Sports," Working Papers 2020-117, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
    12. Michael L. Anderson, 2012. "The Benefits of College Athletic Success: An Application of the Propensity Score Design with Instrumental Variables," NBER Working Papers 18196, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Adam G. Walker, 2015. "Division I Intercollegiate Athletics Success and the Financial Impact on Universities," SAGE Open, , vol. 5(4), pages 21582440156, October.
    14. Jonathan Meer & Harvey S. Rosen, 2009. "Family Bonding with Universities," NBER Working Papers 15493, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Jonathan Meer, 2013. "The Habit Of Giving," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(4), pages 2002-2017, October.
    16. Craig Garthwaite & Jordan Keener & Matthew J. Notowidigdo & Nicole F. Ozminkowski, 2020. "Who Profits From Amateurism? Rent-Sharing in Modern College Sports," NBER Working Papers 27734, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Phanindra V. Wunnava & Albert A. Okunade, 2013. "Do Business Executives Give More to Their Alma Mater? Longitudinal Evidence from a Large University," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 72(3), pages 761-778, July.
    18. Ong, David & Xie, Man & Zhang, Junsen, 2020. "The College Admissions Contribution to the Labor Market Beauty Premium," MPRA Paper 98517, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Meer, Jonathan & Rosen, Harvey S., 2012. "Does generosity beget generosity? Alumni giving and undergraduate financial aid," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 890-907.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Educational economics Educational finance;

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid

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