Economics, Gratitude, and Warm Glow
People feel a sense of gratitude when they receive gifts, transfers, or assistance. Based on psychological literature, I argue that gratitude is different from standard notions of reciprocity. Indeed, people derive utility from in-kind transfers (i.e., feel grateful), even if they do not like or do not consume the gift. This is because it is the thought that counts, so long as the donor made a genuine and sincere effort to make the recipient happy. I incorporate a sense of gratitude into preferences and use it to rationalize Andreoni (1989, 1990) warm-glow of giving. This addresses a critique of Andreoni’s model by Brekke, Kverndokk, and Nyborg (Journal of Public Economics, 2003). I am also able to explain the effect of social distance on the degree of redistribution, why government charitable donations may not crowd out private charitable contributions, the Keynesian effects of government debt, intrinsic motivation, donations to not-for-profit organizations and the practice of thanking anonymous referees in academia.
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