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Generosity and Political Preferences


  • Dawes, Christopher T.

    (Department of Politics)

  • Johannesson, Magnus

    (Stockholm School of Economics)

  • Lindqvist, Erik

    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

  • Loewen, Peter

    (Department of Political Science)

  • Östling, Robert

    (Institute for International Economic Studies)

  • Bonde, Marianne
  • Priks, Frida


We test whether generosity is related to political preferences and partisanship in Canada, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States using incentivized dictator games. The total sample consists of more than 5,000 respondents. We document that support for social spending and redistribution is positively correlated with generosity in all four countries. Further, we show that donors are more generous towards co-partisans in all countries, and that this effect is stronger among supporters of left-wing political parties. All results are robust to the inclusion to an extensive set of control variables, including income and education.

Suggested Citation

  • Dawes, Christopher T. & Johannesson, Magnus & Lindqvist, Erik & Loewen, Peter & Östling, Robert & Bonde, Marianne & Priks, Frida, 2012. "Generosity and Political Preferences," Working Paper Series 941, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0941

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mikael Elinder & Henrik Jordahl & Panu Poutvaara, 2008. "Selfish and Prospective: Theory and Evidence of Pocketbook Voting," CESifo Working Paper Series 2489, CESifo.
    2. Jeffrey Milyo & Jennifer M. Mellor & Lisa Anderson, 2004. "Do Liberals Play Nice? The Effects of Party and Political Ideology in Public Goods and Trust Games," Working Papers 0417, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
    3. Alford, John R. & Funk, Carolyn L. & Hibbing, John R., 2005. "Are Political Orientations Genetically Transmitted?," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 99(2), pages 153-167, May.
    4. James Andreoni & B. Douglas Bernheim, 2009. "Social Image and the 50-50 Norm: A Theoretical and Experimental Analysis of Audience Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1607-1636, September.
    5. Austen-Smith, David, 1984. "Two-party competition with many constituences," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 177-198, April.
    6. Eldersveld, Samuel J., 1956. "Experimental Propaganda Techniques and Voting Behavior," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(1), pages 154-165, March.
    7. van der Loos, Matthijs J. H. M. & Benjamin, Daniel J. & Cesarini, David & Dawes, Christopher T. & Koellinger, Philipp D. & Magnusson, Patrik K. E. & Chabris, Christopher F. & Conley, Dalton & Laibson,, 2012. "The Genetic Architecture of Economic and Political Preferences," Scholarly Articles 10121961, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    8. David Cesarini & Christopher T. Dawes & Magnus Johannesson & Paul Lichtenstein & Björn Wallace, 2009. "Genetic Variation in Preferences for Giving and Risk Taking," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 809-842.
    9. Aaron Edlin & Andrew Gelman & Noah Kaplan, 2007. "Voting as a Rational Choice," Rationality and Society, , vol. 19(3), pages 293-314, August.
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    1. Generosity and Political Preferences
      by Nicholas Gruen in Club Troppo on 2012-12-24 20:44:22


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    Cited by:

    1. Fehr Ernst & Epper Thomas & Senn Julien, 2020. "Other-regarding preferences and redistributive politics," ECON - Working Papers 339, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Dec 2021.
    2. Schwaiger, Rene & Huber, Jürgen & Kirchler, Michael & Kleinlercher, Daniel & Weitzel, Utz, 2022. "Unequal opportunities, social groups, and redistribution: Evidence from Germany," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 100(C).
    3. Fosgaard, Toke R. & Hansen, Lars G. & Wengström, Erik, 2019. "Cooperation, framing, and political attitudes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 416-427.
    4. Kim, Byung-Yeon & Choi, Syngjoo & Lee, Jungmin & Lee, Sokbae & Choi, Kyunghui, 2017. "Do Institutions Affect Social Preferences? Evidence from Divided Korea," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 865-888.
    5. Kerschbamer, Rudolf & Müller, Daniel, 2020. "Social preferences and political attitudes: An online experiment on a large heterogeneous sample," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 182(C).
    6. Helénsdotter, Ronja, 2019. "Experimental Evidence on Cooperation, Political Affiliation, and Group Size," Working Papers in Economics 765, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    7. Rene Schwaiger & Jürgen Huber & Michael Kirchler & Daniel Kleinlercher & Utz Weitzel, 2020. "Unequal Opportunities, Social Groups, and Redistribution: Evidence from the General Population," Working Papers 2020-26, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.

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    More about this item


    Generosity; Altruism; Political Preferences; Size of Government; Public Goods; Dictator Game; Ingroup Effect; Political Partisanship;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General

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