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Do Race and Fairness Matter in Generosity? Evidence from a Nationally Representative Charity Experiment

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  • Fong, Christina M.

    (Carnegie Mellon University)

  • Luttmer, Erzo F. P.

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

We present a dictator game experiment where the recipients are local charities that serve the poor. Donors consist of approximately 1000 participants from a nationally representative respondent panel that is maintained by a private survey research firm, Knowledge Networks. We randomly manipulate the perceived race and worthiness of the charity recipients by showing respondents an audiovisual presentation about the recipients. The experiment yields three main findings. First, we find significant racial bias in perceptions of worthiness: respondents rate recipients of their own racial group as more worthy. Second, respondents give significantly more when the recipients are described as more worthy. These findings may lead one to expect that respondents would also give more generously when shown pictures of recipients belonging to their own racial group. However, our third result shows that this is not the case; despite our successfully manipulating perceptions of race, giving does not respond significantly to recipient race. Thus, while our respondents do seem to rate ingroup members as more worthy, they appear to overcome this bias when it comes to giving.

Suggested Citation

  • Fong, Christina M. & Luttmer, Erzo F. P., 2009. "Do Race and Fairness Matter in Generosity? Evidence from a Nationally Representative Charity Experiment," Working Paper Series rwp09-014, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp09-014
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Masella, Paolo & Meier, Stephan & Zahn, Philipp, 2014. "Incentives and group identity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 12-25.
    2. Pelligra, Vittorio & Stanca, Luca, 2013. "To give or not to give? Equity, efficiency and altruistic behavior in an artefactual field experiment," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 1-9.
    3. Etang, Alvin & Fielding, David & Knowles, Stephen, 2012. "Giving to Africa and perceptions of poverty," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, pages 819-832.
    4. Pfarr Christian & Ulrich Volker, 2011. "Discrete-Choice-Experimente zur Ermittlung der Präferenzen für Umverteilung," Review of Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 62(3), pages 232-262, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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