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Is More Information Always Better? An Experimental Study of Charitable Giving and Hurrican Katrina


  • Catherine Eckel

    () (School of Economics, Political and Policy Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas)

  • Philip J. Grossman

    () (Department of Economics, Saint Cloud State University)

  • Angela Milano

    () (School of Economics, Political and Policy Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas)


We report results of an experiment designed to assess the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the pattern and level of charitable contributions of donors. The study includes an experimental measure of charitable giving and targets three charities: the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Oxfam International. In the experiment subjects make allocation decisions from three endowments ($10, $20, and $50) and with four different matching subsidies (0%, 25%, 50%, and 100%), with the matching amount provided by the experimenter. Two locations (Texas and Minnesota) and two information conditions are used. Survey measures of sympathy, risk perceptions, and perceptions of Katrina victims are also collected. The probability and amount of giving are responsive to the experimental design parameters—the endowment and match. We find evidence of “Katrina overload” as those closest to the disaster respond negatively to Katrina-related priming information. Perceptions of the psychological attitudes of the victims of the disaster have a significant effect on the amount given.

Suggested Citation

  • Catherine Eckel & Philip J. Grossman & Angela Milano, 2007. "Is More Information Always Better? An Experimental Study of Charitable Giving and Hurrican Katrina," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 388-411, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:74:1:y:2007:p:388-411

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    Cited by:

    1. de Oliveira, Angela C.M. & Croson, Rachel T.A. & Eckel, Catherine, 2011. "The giving type: Identifying donors," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5), pages 428-435.
    2. Brown, Sarah & Harris, Mark N. & Taylor, Karl, 2012. "Modelling charitable donations to an unexpected natural disaster: Evidence from the U.S. Panel Study of Income Dynamics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 97-110.
    3. Bachke, Maren Elise & Alfnes, Frode & Wik, Mette, 2017. "Information and donations to development aid projects," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 23-28.
    4. Nisvan Erkal & Lata Gangadharan & Nikos Nikiforakis, 2011. "Relative Earnings and Giving in a Real-Effort Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3330-3348, December.
    5. Ryo Ishida, "undated". "Determinants of Charitable Giving to Unexpected Natural Disasters: Evidence from Two Major Earthquakes in Japan," Discussion papers ron256, Policy Research Institute, Ministry of Finance Japan.
    6. Tonin, Mirco & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2017. "Sharing one’s fortune? An experimental study on earned income and giving," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 112-118.
    7. Blanco, Esther & Lopez, Maria Claudia & Coleman, Eric A., 2012. "Voting for environmental donations: Experimental evidence from Majorca, Spain," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 52-60.
    8. Eiji Yamamura, 2010. "Effects of Interactions among Social Capital, Income and Learning from Experiences of Natural Disasters: A Case Study from Japan," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(8), pages 1019-1032.
    9. Kleidt Benjamin & Schiereck Dirk & Sigl-Grueb Christof, 2009. "Rationality at the Eve of Destruction: Insurance Stocks and Huge Catastrophic Events," Journal of Business Valuation and Economic Loss Analysis, De Gruyter, vol. 4(2), pages 1-27, April.
    10. Richard P.C. Brown & Gareth Leeves & Prabha Prayaga, 2014. "Sharing Norm Pressures and Community Remittances: Evidence from a Natural Disaster in the Pacific Islands," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(3), pages 383-398, March.
    11. Boschini, Anne & Muren, Astri & Persson, Mats, 2012. "Constructing gender differences in the economics lab," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 741-752.
    12. Roman M. Sheremeta & Neslihan Uler, 2016. "The Impact of Taxes and Wasteful Government Spending on Giving," Working Papers 16-07, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    13. Edward P. Stringham & Nicholas A. Snow, 2008. "The broken trailer fallacy: Seeing the unseen effects of government policies in post-Katrina New Orleans," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 35(7), pages 480-489, June.
    14. Pedro Rey-Biel & Roman M. Sheremeta & Neslihan Uler, 2011. "(Bad) Luck or (Lack of) Effort?: Comparing Social Sharing Norms between US and Europe," Working Papers 11-11, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    15. Kidd, Michael & Nicholas, Aaron & Rai, Birendra, 2013. "Tournament outcomes and prosocial behaviour," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 387-401.
    16. Pedro Rey-Biel & Roman Sheremeta & Neslihan Uler, 2015. "When Income Depends on Performance and Luck: The Effects of Culture and Information on Giving," Working Papers 15-12, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    17. yamamura, eiji, 2008. "Learning Effect And Social Capital: A Case Study Of Natural Disaster From Japan," MPRA Paper 10249, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Bracha Anat & Jamison Julian C., 2012. "Shifting Confidence in Homeownership: The Great Recession," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(3), pages 1-48, October.
    19. Philip J. Grossman & Mana Komai & James E. Jensen, 2015. "Leadership and gender in groups: An experiment," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 48(1), pages 368-388, February.
    20. Neslihan Uler, 2011. "Public goods provision, inequality and taxes," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(3), pages 287-306, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty


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