Charity and the Bequest Motive: Evidence from Seventeenth-Century Wills
This paper researches motivations for charitable bequests by looking at gifts to the poor in wills written in Suffolk, England, in the 1620s and 1630s. The findings that wealthier and more religious individuals and those with fewer children give more to the poor support an altruistic model of testator utility. However, the result that individuals who give to more people outside of their immediate families are more likely to give to the poor contradicts the simple altruism model. This result is consistent with a model that suggests that charitable giving is partially driven by the approbation granted to charitable behavior.
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