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Using experimental economics to measure the effects of a natural educational experiment on altruism

  • Eric Bettinger
  • Robert Slonim

Economic research examining how educational intervention programs affect primary and secondary schooling focuses largely on test scores although the interventions can affect many other outcomes. This paper examines how an educational intervention, a voucher program, affected students' altruism. The voucher program used a lottery to allocate scholarships among low-income applicant families with children in K-8th grade. By exploiting the lottery to identify the voucher effects, and using experimental economic methods, we measure the effects of the intervention on childrens altruism. We also measure the voucher programs effects on parents' altruism and several academic outcomes including test scores. We find that the educational intervention positively affects students' altruism towards charitable organizations but not towards their peers. We fail to find statistically significant effects of the vouchers on parents' altruism or test scores.

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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Artefactual Field Experiments with number 00008.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:feb:artefa:00008
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