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Exploring the Origins of Charitable Acts: Evidence from an Artefactual Field Experiment with Young Children

Author

Listed:
  • John List
  • Anya Samek

Abstract

An active area of research within economics concerns the underpinnings of why people give to charitable causes. This study takes a new approach to this question by exploring motivations for giving among children aged 3-5. Using data gathered from 122 children, our artefactual field experiment naturally permits us to disentangle pure altruism and warm glow motivators for giving. We find evidence for the existence of pure altruism but not warm glow. Our results suggest pure altruism is a fundamental component of our preferences, and highlight that warm glow preferences found amongst adults likely develop over time. One speculative hypothesis is that warm glow preferences are learned through socialization.

Suggested Citation

  • John List & Anya Samek, 2012. "Exploring the Origins of Charitable Acts: Evidence from an Artefactual Field Experiment with Young Children," Artefactual Field Experiments 00435, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:artefa:00435
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
    2. Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2007. "Estimating Risk Attitudes in Denmark: A Field Experiment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 109(2), pages 341-368, June.
    3. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A. & Laury, Susan K., 2002. "Private costs and public benefits: unraveling the effects of altruism and noisy behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 255-276, February.
    4. List, John A. & Peysakhovich, Yana, 2011. "Charitable donations are more responsive to stock market booms than busts," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 110(2), pages 166-169, February.
    5. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-1458, December.
    6. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-477, June.
    7. Crumpler, Heidi & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "An experimental test of warm glow giving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1011-1021, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jeborg:v:143:y:2017:i:c:p:28-44 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Avner Ben-Ner & John A. List & Louis Putterman & Anya Samek, 2015. "Learned Generosity? A Field Experiment with Parents and their Children," Working Papers 2015-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    3. Houser, Daniel & List, John A. & Piovesan, Marco & Samek, Anya & Winter, Joachim, 2016. "Dishonesty: From parents to children," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 242-254.
    4. repec:eee:ecolet:v:157:y:2017:i:c:p:159-162 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Ben-Ner, Avner & List, John A. & Putterman, Louis & Samek, Anya, 2017. "Learned generosity? An artefactual field experiment with parents and their children," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 28-44.
    6. Guzmán, Andrea & Villegas-Palacio, Clara & Wollbrant, Conny, 2013. "Social Information and Charitable Giving: An artefactual field experiment with young children and adolescents," Working Papers in Economics 564, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised Nov 2014.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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