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No excuses for good behavior: Volunteering and the social environment

  • Linardi, Sera
  • McConnell, Margaret A.

We study the effect of the social environment on the quantity and quality of voluntary labor contributions. By extending Benabou and Tirole's (2006) image signaling framework, we derive theoretical predictions on time volunteered given (1) the availability of excuses to stop volunteering and (2) the presence of an authority figure. We test these predictions in an experiment where laboratory subjects are directly involved in a local nonprofit operation. We find that in the absence of excuses to stop volunteering, subjects volunteer longer without working less productively. This increase is partially driven by subjects' reluctance to be the first to stop volunteering. The presence of an authority figure has little impact, but the presence of peers has a positive and significant impact.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 95 (2011)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
Pages: 445-454

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:5:p:445-454
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  8. Armin Falk & Michael Kosfeld, . "The Hidden Costs of Control," IEW - Working Papers 250, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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  17. Dan Ariely & Anat Bracha & Stephan Meier, 2009. "Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 544-55, March.
  18. Daniel Zizzo, 2010. "Experimenter demand effects in economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 75-98, March.
  19. Craig Landry & Andreas Lange & John A. List & Michael K. Price & Nicholas G. Rupp, 2005. "Toward an Understanding of the Economics of Charity: Evidence from a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 11611, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Schady, Norbert R., 2001. "Who participates : the supply of volunteer labor and the distribution of government programs in rural Peru," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2671, The World Bank.
  21. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 990-1008, June.
  22. Frank, Bjorn, 1998. "Good news for experimenters: subjects do not care about your welfare," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 171-174, November.
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  25. Caitlin Knowles Myers & Jeffrey Carpenter, 2007. "Why Volunteer? Evidence on the Role of Altruism, Reputation, and Incentives," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0712, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  26. Rege, Mari & Telle, Kjetil, 2004. "The impact of social approval and framing on cooperation in public good situations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1625-1644, July.
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