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Good News, Bad News, and Social Image: The Market for Charitable Giving

Listed author(s):
  • Luigi Butera

    ()

    (The University of Chicago)

  • Jeffrey Horn

    ()

    (General Assembly)

We conduct a laboratory experiment with real donations to test how unexpected information about charities’ qualities and its public visibility affect giving. A perceived increase in charities’ qualities represents a decrease in the price of charitable output, and can generate both an income and substitution effect on nominal giving. On the one hand positive news about charities’ qualities can increase giving, since donors realize that it is cheaper to generate charitable output. On the other hand positive news may crowd-out giving because donors may provide a higher or equal level of charitable output with lower nominal donations. Similarly, if information about quality has a social signaling value, then donors who give to acquire social recognition may perceive quality and quantity of giving as either complements or substitutes in generating social image returns. We find that when information about charities’ qualities is privately received, giving is always increasing in the quality of the news, and bad news has little effect on giving. Differently, when information is public, we find that 34% of donors trade-off the quality and quantity of their gifts. We show that these donors are relatively more motivated by social recognition, and argue that image conscience donors strategically use positive information to reduce giving. Length: 35

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File URL: http://www.gmu.edu/schools/chss/economics/icesworkingpapers.gmu.edu/pdf/1041.pdf
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Paper provided by George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science in its series Working Papers with number 1041.

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Date of creation: May 2013
Date of revision: Mar 2016
Handle: RePEc:gms:wpaper:1041
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  1. David Eil & Justin M. Rao, 2011. "The Good News-Bad News Effect: Asymmetric Processing of Objective Information about Yourself," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 114-138, May.
  2. Dean Karlan & John List, 2006. "Does price matter in charitable giving? Evidence from a large-scale natural field experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00279, The Field Experiments Website.
  3. 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.
  4. David C. Ribar & Mark O. Wilhelm, 2002. "Altruistic and Joy-of-Giving Motivations in Charitable Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 425-457, April.
  5. Linda Babcock & George Loewenstein, 1997. "Explaining Bargaining Impasse: The Role of Self-Serving Biases," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 109-126, Winter.
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  7. Harbaugh, William T, 1998. "The Prestige Motive for Making Charitable Transfers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 277-282, May.
  8. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 0042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Potters, J.J.M. & Sefton, M. & Vesterlund, L., 2007. "Leading-by-example and signaling in voluntary contribution games : An experimental study," Other publications TiSEM 1ea4e6c8-3071-46d8-a29f-0, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  10. Dan Ariely & Anat Bracha & Stephan Meier, 2007. "Doing good or doing well? Image motivation and monetary incentives in behaving prosocially," Working Papers 07-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  11. Sugden, Robert, 1984. "Reciprocity: The Supply of Public Goods through Voluntary Contributions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376), pages 772-787, December.
  12. Christina M. Fong, 2007. "Evidence from an Experiment on Charity to Welfare Recipients: Reciprocity, Altruism and the Empathic Responsiveness Hypothesis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(522), pages 1008-1024, 07.
  13. Potters, J.J.M. & Sefton, M. & Vesterlund, L., 2003. "After You - Endogenous Sequencing in Voluntary Contribution Games," Discussion Paper 2003-98, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  14. Rege, Mari & Telle, Kjetil, 2004. "The impact of social approval and framing on cooperation in public good situations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1625-1644, July.
  15. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
  16. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Why free ride? : Strategies and learning in public goods experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 291-304, December.
  17. Harbaugh, William T., 1998. "What do donations buy?: A model of philanthropy based on prestige and warm glow," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 269-284, February.
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