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No excuses for good behavior: Volunteering and the social environment

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  • Linardi, Sera
  • McConnell, Margaret A.

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Linardi, Sera & McConnell, Margaret A., 2011. "No excuses for good behavior: Volunteering and the social environment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5), pages 445-454.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:5:p:445-454
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2010.06.020
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Prosocial behavior; Experiments; Voluntary contributions; Labor; Social image; Organizational design;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • L30 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - General

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