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Do Subsidies Increase Charitable Giving in the Long Run? Matching Donations in a Field Experiment

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  • Stephan Meier

Abstract

Subsidizing charitable giving—for example, for victims of natural disasters—is very popular, not only with governments but also with private organizations. Many companies match their employees' charitable contributions, hoping that this will foster the willingness to contribute. However, systematic analyses of the effect of such a matching mechanism are still lacking.This article tests the effect of matching charitable giving in a randomized field experiment in the short and the long run. The donations of a randomly selected group were matched by contributions from an anonymous donor. The results support the hypothesis that a matching mechanism increases contributions to a public good. However, in the periods after the experiment, when matching donations have been stopped, the contribution rate declines for the treatment group. The matching mechanism leads to a negative net effect on the participation rate. The field experiment therefore provides evidence suggesting that the willingness to contribute may be undermined by a matching mechanism in the long run. (JEL: C93, D64, H00) (c) 2007 by the European Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephan Meier, 2007. "Do Subsidies Increase Charitable Giving in the Long Run? Matching Donations in a Field Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(6), pages 1203-1222, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:5:y:2007:i:6:p:1203-1222
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stephan Meier, 2006. "A survey of economic theories and field evidence on pro-social behavior," Working Papers 06-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    2. John A. List & David Lucking-Reiley, 2002. "The Effects of Seed Money and Refunds on Charitable Giving: Experimental Evidence from a University Capital Campaign," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 215-233, February.
    3. Randolph, William C, 1995. "Dynamic Income, Progressive Taxes, and the Timing of Charitable Contributions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(4), pages 709-738, August.
    4. Dean Karlan & John A. List, 2007. "Does Price Matter in Charitable Giving? Evidence from a Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1774-1793, December.
    5. David C. Ribar & Mark O. Wilhelm, 2002. "Altruistic and Joy-of-Giving Motivations in Charitable Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 425-457, April.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General

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