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Public Spending and Volunteering: "The Big Society", Crowding Out, and Volunteering Capital

  • Koen P.R. Bartels


    (University of Glasgow)

  • Guido Cozzi


    (Durham Business School)

  • Noemi Mantovan


    (Durham Business School)

The current British Government's "Big Society" plan is based on the idea that granting more freedom to local communities and volunteers will compensate for a withdrawal of public agencies and spending. This idea is grounded on a widely held belief about the relationship between government and volunteering: a high degree of government intervention will cause a crowding out of voluntary activity. Up to now, however, the crowding out hypothesis has hardly been supported by any empirical evidence or solid theoretical foundations. We develop a simple theoretical model to predict how fiscal policy a¤ects the individual decision to volunteer or not. The predictions of the model are tested through the econometric analysis of two survey data sets, and interpretative analysis of narratives of local volunteers and public officials. Contrary to conventional wisdom, our results suggest that volunteering, by the individuals in the actively working population, declines when government intervention is decreased.

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Paper provided by Durham University Business School in its series Working Papers with number 2011_09.

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Date of creation: 19 Mar 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dur:durham:2011_09
Contact details of provider: Postal: Durham University Business School, Mill Hill Lane, Durham DH1 3LB, England
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  2. Singhal, Monica & Olken, Benjamin A., 2009. "Informal Taxation," Scholarly Articles 4449108, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
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  7. Khanna, Jyoti & Sandler, Todd, 2000. "Partners in giving:: The crowding-in effects of UK government grants," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(8), pages 1543-1556, August.
  8. Meier, Stephan & Stutzer, Alois, 2004. "Is Volunteering Rewarding in Itself?," IZA Discussion Papers 1045, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," Scholarly Articles 4551796, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Bilodeau, Marc & Slivinski, Al, 1996. "Toilet cleaning and department chairing: Volunteering a public service," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 299-308, February.
  11. Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Working for Nothing: The Supply of Volunteer Labor," NBER Working Papers 5435, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  14. Marcel Erlinghagen & Karsten Hank, 2005. "Participation of Older Europeans in Volunteer Work," MEA discussion paper series 05071, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  15. Duncan, Brian, 1999. "Modeling charitable contributions of time and money," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 213-242, May.
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