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Toward an Understanding of the Economics of Charity: Evidence from a Field Experiment

  • Craig E. Landry

    (East Carolina University)

  • Andreas Lange

    (University of Maryland)

  • John A. List

    (University of Chicago and NBER)

  • Michael K. Price

    (University of Nevada-Reno)

  • Nicholas G. Rupp

    (East Carolina University)

This study develops theory and uses a door-to-door fund-raising field experiment to explore the economics of charity. We approached nearly 5000 households, randomly divided into four experimental treatments, to shed light on key issues on the demand side of charitable fund-raising. Empirical results are in line with our theory: in gross terms, the lotteries raised more money than the voluntary contributions treatments. Interestingly, in terms of both maximizing current contributions and inducing participation, we find that a one-standard deviation increase in female solicitor physical attractiveness is similar to that of the lottery incentive. Copyright (c) 2006 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology..

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 121 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 747-782

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:121:y:2006:i:2:p:747-782
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