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Field experiments in charitable contribution: The impact of social influence on the voluntary provision of public goods

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  • Rachel Croson
  • Jen Shang

Abstract

We study the effect of social information on the voluntary provision of public goods. Competing theories predict that others[1] contributions might be either substitutes or complements to one's own. We demonstrate a positive social information effect on individual contributions, supporting theories of complementarities. We find the most influential level of social information is drawn from the 90th to 95th percentile of previous contributions. We furthermore find the effect to be significant for new members but not for renewing members. In the most effective condition, social information increases contributions by 12% ($13). These increased contributions do not crowd out future contributions.

Suggested Citation

  • Rachel Croson & Jen Shang, 2006. "Field experiments in charitable contribution: The impact of social influence on the voluntary provision of public goods," Natural Field Experiments 00323, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00323
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    Cited by:

    1. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2005. "Behavioral Public Economics: Welfare and Policy Analysis with Non-Standard Decision-Makers," Discussion Papers 04-033, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    2. Gerlinde Fellner & Rupert Sausgruber & Christian Traxler, 2009. "Testing Enforcement Strategies in the Field: Legal Threat, Moral Appeal and Social Information," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2009_31, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    3. Fredrik Carlsson & Jorge García & Åsa Löfgren, 2010. "Conformity and the Demand for Environmental Goods," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 47(3), pages 407-421, November.
    4. Jonathan Meer, 2009. "Brother Can You Spare a Dime? Peer Effects in Charitable Solicitation," Discussion Papers 08-035, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    5. Francisco Alpizar & Fredrik Carlsson & Olof Johansson-Stenman, 2008. "Does context matter more for hypothetical than for actual contributions? Evidence from a natural field experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 11(3), pages 299-314, September.
    6. Kjell Arne Brekke & Olof Johansson-Stenman, 2008. "The behavioural economics of climate change," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(2), pages 280-297, Summer.
    7. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2008. "Anonymity, reciprocity, and conformity: Evidence from voluntary contributions to a national park in Costa Rica," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1047-1060, June.
    8. Rachel Croson & Enrique Fatas & Tibor Neugebauer, 2006. "An Experimental Analysis Of Conditional Cooperation," Working Papers. Serie AD 2006-24, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    9. Spichtig, Mathias & Traxler, Christian, 2007. "Social Norms and the Evolution of Conditional Cooperation," Discussion Papers in Economics 1398, University of Munich, Department of Economics.

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