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Using experimental economics to measure the effects of a natural educational experiment on altruism


  • Bettinger, Eric
  • Slonim, Robert


Economic research examining how educational intervention programs affect primary and secondary schooling focuses largely on test scores although the interventions can affect many other outcomes. This paper examines how an educational intervention, a voucher program, affected students' altruism. The voucher program used a lottery to allocate scholarships among low-income applicant families with children in K-8th grade. By exploiting the lottery to identify the voucher effects, and using experimental economic methods, we measure the effects of the intervention on childrens altruism. We also measure the voucher programs effects on parents' altruism and several academic outcomes including test scores. We find that the educational intervention positively affects students' altruism towards charitable organizations but not towards their peers. We fail to find statistically significant effects of the vouchers on parents' altruism or test scores.
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  • Bettinger, Eric & Slonim, Robert, 2006. "Using experimental economics to measure the effects of a natural educational experiment on altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1625-1648, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:90:y:2006:i:8-9:p:1625-1648

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Martin Schlotter & Guido Schwerdt & Ludger Woessmann, 2011. "Econometric methods for causal evaluation of education policies and practices: a non-technical guide," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 109-137.
    2. Xin Meng & Jim Ryan, 2010. "Does a food for education program affect school outcomes? The Bangladesh case," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 23(2), pages 415-447, March.
    3. Ouazad, Amine & Page, Lionel, 2013. "Students' perceptions of teacher biases: Experimental economics in schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 116-130.
    4. Fabian Kosse & Thomas Deckers & Hannah Schildberg-Horisch & Armin Falk, 2016. "The Formation of Prosociality: Causal Evidence on the Role of Social Environment," Working Papers 2016-011, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    5. Juan Camilo Cárdenas, 2009. "Experiments in Environment and Development," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 157-182, September.
    6. Jha Nikhil & Polidano Cain, 2015. "Long-Run Effects of Catholic Schooling on Wages," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 15(4), pages 2017-2045, October.
    7. Ariel Fiszbein & Norbert Schady & Francisco H.G. Ferreira & Margaret Grosh & Niall Keleher & Pedro Olinto & Emmanuel Skoufias, 2009. "Conditional Cash Transfers : Reducing Present and Future Poverty," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2597.
    8. Koch, Alexander & Nafziger, Julia & Nielsen, Helena Skyt, 2015. "Behavioral economics of education," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 3-17.
    9. repec:eee:jeborg:v:143:y:2017:i:c:p:28-44 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Gummerum, Michaela & Hanoch, Yaniv & Keller, Monika & Parsons, Katie & Hummel, Alegra, 2010. "Preschoolers' allocations in the dictator game: The role of moral emotions," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 25-34, February.
    11. Dolores Messer & Stefan C. Wolter, 2009. "Money Matters - Evidence from a Large-Scale Randomized Field Experiment with Vouchers for Adult Training," CESifo Working Paper Series 2548, CESifo Group Munich.
    12. Friesen, Jane & Arifovic, Jasmina & Wright, Stephen C. & Ludwig, Andreas & Giamo, Lisa & Baray, Gamze, 2012. "Ethnic identity and discrimination among children," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 1156-1169.

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    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments


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