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

Author

Listed:
  • Koen P.R. Bartels

    () (University of Glasgow)

  • Guido Cozzi

    () (Durham Business School)

  • Noemi Mantovan

    () (Durham Business School)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Koen P.R. Bartels & Guido Cozzi & Noemi Mantovan, 2011. "Public Spending and Volunteering: "The Big Society", Crowding Out, and Volunteering Capital," Working Papers 2011_09, Durham University Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:dur:durham:2011_09
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Franz Hackl & Martin Halla & Gerald Pruckner, 2012. "Volunteering and the state," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 151(3), pages 465-495, June.
    2. Stephan Meier & Alois Stutzer, 2008. "Is Volunteering Rewarding in Itself?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 75(297), pages 39-59, February.
    3. Benjamin A. Olken & Monica Singhal, 2011. "Informal Taxation," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 1-28, October.
    4. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 847-904.
    5. Freeman, Richard B, 1997. "Working for Nothing: The Supply of Volunteer Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 140-166, January.
    6. 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.
    7. Stefano DellaVigna & John A. List & Ulrike Malmendier, 2012. "Testing for Altruism and Social Pressure in Charitable Giving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(1), pages 1-56.
    8. Duncan, Brian, 1999. "Modeling charitable contributions of time and money," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 213-242, May.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Duncan Boldy, 1999. "Contribution," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Monitoring, Evaluating, Planning Health Services, chapter 25, pages 261-262 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    12. Duncan, Brian, 2004. "A theory of impact philanthropy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2159-2180, August.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    volunteering; labor supply; public goods; altruism;

    JEL classification:

    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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