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Does Welfare Spending Crowd out Charitable Activity? Evidence from Historical England under the Poor Laws

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  • Nina Boberg‐Fazlić
  • Paul Sharp

Abstract

This study examines the relationship between government spending and charitable activity. We present a novel way of testing the ‘crowding out hypothesis’, making use of the fact that welfare provision under the Old Poor Laws was decided at the parish level, thus giving heterogeneity within a single country. Using data on poor relief spending combined with data on charitable incomes by county before and after 1800, we find a positive relationship: areas with more public provision also enjoyed higher levels of charitable income. These results are confirmed when instrumenting for Poor Law spending and when looking at first differences.

Suggested Citation

  • Nina Boberg‐Fazlić & Paul Sharp, 2017. "Does Welfare Spending Crowd out Charitable Activity? Evidence from Historical England under the Poor Laws," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(599), pages 50-83.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:econjl:v:127:y:2017:i:599:p:50-83.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ecoj.12251
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