IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Media Coverage and Charitable Giving after the 2004 Tsunami


  • Philip H. Brown

    () (Department of Economics, Colby College, 5246 Mayflower Hill, Waterville, ME 04901, USA)

  • Jessica H. Minty

    () (Analysis Group, Inc., 111 Huntington Avenue, 10th Floor, Boston, MA 02199, USA;)


Media coverage of humanitarian crises is widely believed to influence charitable giving, yet this assertion has received little empirical scrutiny. Using Internet donations after the 2004 tsunami as a case study, we show that media coverage of disasters has a dramatic impact on donations to relief agencies. An additional minute of nightly news coverage or an additional story in major newspapers raises donations by 17–21%, controlling for the time that has elapsed since the disaster, for tax considerations, and for weekends. Repeating the analysis using instrumental variables to account for simultaneity and omitted variable bias, we find that an additional minute of news coverage raises donations by about 2.5%, an effect that remains both economically and statistically significant. We also find evidence of donor fatigue as well as evidence that tax incentives are effective in increasing charitable donations.

Suggested Citation

  • Philip H. Brown & Jessica H. Minty, 2008. "Media Coverage and Charitable Giving after the 2004 Tsunami," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 9-25, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:75:1:y:2008:p:9-25

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. A. Smith, Jeffrey & E. Todd, Petra, 2005. "Does matching overcome LaLonde's critique of nonexperimental estimators?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 305-353.
    2. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 151-184, February.
    3. James J. Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Petra E. Todd, 1997. "Matching As An Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 605-654.
    4. David H. Autor & Susan N. Houseman, 2010. "Do Temporary-Help Jobs Improve Labor Market Outcomes for Low-Skilled Workers? Evidence from "Work First"," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 96-128, July.
    5. Miles, Thomas J, 2000. "Common Law Exceptions to Employment at Will and U.S. Labor Markets," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 74-101, April.
    6. Angrist, Joshua D. & Krueger, Alan B., 1999. "Empirical strategies in labor economics," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 23, pages 1277-1366 Elsevier.
    7. Lawrence F. Katz, 1996. "Wage Subsidies for the Disadvantaged," NBER Working Papers 5679, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Sarah Hamersma, 2011. "Why Don'T Eligible Firms Claim Hiring Subsidies? The Role Of Job Duration," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(3), pages 916-934, July.
    9. Julia Lane & Kelly S. Mikelson & Pat Sharkey & Doug Wissoker, 2003. "Pathways to work for low-income workers: The effect of work in the temporary help industry," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(4), pages 581-598.
    10. Michael D. S. Morris & Alexander Vekker, 2001. "An Alternative Look at Temporary Workers, Their Choices, and the Growth in Temporary Employment," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 22(2), pages 373-390, April.
    11. Carolyn J. Heinrich & Peter R. Mueser & Kenneth R. Troske, 2005. "Welfare to Temporary Work: Implications for Labor Market Outcomes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 154-173, February.
    12. Kevin Hollenbeck & Richard J. Willke, 1991. "The Employment and Earnings Impacts of the Targeted Jobs Tax Credit," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 91-07, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    13. David H. Autor, 2003. "Outsourcing at Will: The Contribution of Unjust Dismissal Doctrine to the Growth of Employment Outsourcing," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 1-42, January.
    14. Lewis M. Segal & Daniel G. Sullivan, 1997. "The Growth of Temporary Services Work," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 117-136, Spring.
    15. Wang-Sheng Lee, 2013. "Propensity score matching and variations on the balancing test," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 47-80, February.
    16. Susan N. Houseman & Anne E. Polivka, 1999. "The Implications of Flexible Staffing Arrangements for Job Stability," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 99-56, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    17. James Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 1998. "Characterizing Selection Bias Using Experimental Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(5), pages 1017-1098, September.
    18. James J. Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Petra Todd, 1998. "Matching As An Econometric Evaluation Estimator," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(2), pages 261-294.
    19. Sarah Hamersma, 2008. "The effects of an employer subsidy on employment outcomes: A study of the work opportunity and welfare-to-work tax credits," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(3), pages 498-520.
    20. LaDonna Pavetti & Gregory Acs, 2001. "Moving Up, Moving Out, or Going Nowhere? A Study of the Employment Patterns of Young Women and the Implications for Welfare Mothers," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 721-736.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Barış K. Yörük, 2012. "The Effect of Media on Charitable Giving and Volunteering: Evidence from the “Give Five” Campaign," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(4), pages 813-836, September.
    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. Aldashev, Gani & Marini, Marco & Verdier, Thierry, 2014. "Brothers in alms? Coordination between nonprofits on markets for donations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 182-200.
    4. Yörük Bariş K., 2015. "Do Charitable Subsidies Crowd Out Political Giving? The Missing Link between Charitable and Political Contributions," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 15(1), pages 1-29, January.
    5. Pierre-Guillaume Méon & Philip Verwimp, 2016. "Pro-social behavior after a disaster: parochial or universal? Evidence from a natural experiment in Belgium," Working Papers CEB 16-054, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    6. Tiefenbach, Tim & Kohlbacher, Florian, 2015. "Disasters, donations, and tax law changes: Disentangling effects on subjective well-being by exploiting a natural experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 94-112.
    7. Khim-Yong Goh & Kai-Lung Hui & Ivan P. L. Png, 2011. "Newspaper Reports and Consumer Choice: Evidence from the Do Not Call Registry," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(9), pages 1640-1654, February.
    8. Baris Yoruk, 2013. "Are Generous People More Likely to Vote?," Discussion Papers 13-10, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
    9. Sarah Smith & Mark Ottoni-Wilhelm & Kimberley Scharf, 2017. "The donation response to natural disasters," IFS Working Papers W17/19, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    10. Chiou, Lesley & Lopez, Mary, 2010. "The reality of reality television: Does reality TV influence local crime rates?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 108(3), pages 330-333, September.
    11. Sarah Smith & Mark Ottoni-Wilhelm & Kimberley Scharf, 2017. "The donation response to natural disasters," IFS Working Papers W17/19, Institute for Fiscal Studies.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O19 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:75:1:y:2008:p:9-25. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Laura Razzolini). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.