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Why Volunteer? Evidence on the Role of Altruism, Reputation, and Incentives

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Listed:
  • Carpenter, Jeffrey P.

    (Middlebury College)

  • Myers, Caitlin Knowles

    (Middlebury College)

Abstract

Volunteering plays a prominent role in the charitable provision of goods and services, yet we know relatively little about why people engage in such prosocial acts. The list of possible motivations is long, but recent research has focused on altruism, reputational concerns, and material incentives. We present an analysis of a unique data set that combines an experimental measure of altruism, surveyed measures of other factors including reputational concerns, and call records from volunteer firefighters that provide an objective measure of the hours volunteered. Controlling for a variety of other explanations, we find that altruism and reputational concerns are positively associated with the decision to volunteer. Moreover, by utilizing variation in the presence and level of small stipends paid to the firefighters, we find that the positive effect of monetary incentives declines with reputational concerns, supporting a prediction that extrinsic incentives can crowd out prosocial behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Myers, Caitlin Knowles, 2007. "Why Volunteer? Evidence on the Role of Altruism, Reputation, and Incentives," IZA Discussion Papers 3021, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3021
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    Cited by:

    1. Bruno, Bruna & Fiorillo, Damiano, 2012. "Why without pay? Intrinsic motivation in the unpaid labour supply," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(5), pages 659-669.
    2. de Oliveira, Angela C.M. & Croson, Rachel T.A. & Eckel, Catherine, 2011. "The giving type: Identifying donors," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5), pages 428-435.
    3. Cappellari, Lorenzo & Ghinetti, Paolo & Turati, Gilberto, 2011. "On time and money donations," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 853-867.
    4. Elisabeth Gsottbauer & Jeroen Bergh, 2011. "Environmental Policy Theory Given Bounded Rationality and Other-regarding Preferences," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 49(2), pages 263-304, June.
    5. Cárdenas, Juan Camilo & Chong, Alberto & Ñopo, Hugo, 2013. "Stated social behavior and revealed actions: Evidence from six Latin American countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 16-33.
    6. Delmas, Magali A. & Lessem, Neil, 2014. "Saving power to conserve your reputation? The effectiveness of private versus public information," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 353-370.
    7. Simon Cornée & Marc Jegers & Ariane Szafarz, 2018. "A Theory of Social Finance," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes & University of Caen) 2018-02, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes, University of Caen and CNRS.
    8. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2010. "Individual and Corporate Social Responsibility," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 77(305), pages 1-19, January.
    9. Linardi, Sera & McConnell, Margaret A., 2011. "No excuses for good behavior: Volunteering and the social environment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5), pages 445-454.
    10. Miklós Antal & Ardjan Gazheli & Jeroen C.J.M. van den Bergh, 2012. "Behavioural Foundations of Sustainability Transitions. WWWforEurope Working Paper No. 3," WIFO Studies, WIFO, number 46424.
    11. Filipa Silva & Teresa Proença & Marisa R. Ferreira, 2018. "Volunteers’ perspective on online volunteering - a qualitative approach," International Review on Public and Nonprofit Marketing, Springer;International Association of Public and Non-Profit Marketing, vol. 15(4), pages 531-552, December.
    12. Barr, Abigail & Packard, Truman & Serra, Danila, 2012. "Participatory accountability and collective action : evidence from field experiments in Albanian schools," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6027, The World Bank.
    13. Damiano Fiorillo, 2011. "Do Monetary Rewards Crowd Out The Intrinsic Motivation Of Volunteers? Some Empirical Evidence For Italian Volunteers," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 82(2), pages 139-165, June.
    14. Fiorillo, Damiano, 2010. "Volunteers and conditions under which crowd-out effect could appear. An empirical evidence of psychological self-determination theory," MPRA Paper 22878, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Damiano Fiorillo, 2010. "Volunteer work and domain satisfactions: Evidence from Italy," Discussion Papers 6_2010, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.
    16. Enrico Colombatto & Valerio Tavormina, 2015. "Does altruism justify privileges?," ICER Working Papers 01-2015, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
    17. Jorge Cunha & Rainer Mensing & Paul Benneworth, 2018. "A conceptual framework to understand academic student volunteerism," CHEPS Working Papers 201803, University of Twente, Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS).
    18. Yannis Georgellis & Vurain Tabvuma, 2010. "Does Public Service Motivation Adapt?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(2), pages 176-191, May.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    firefighter; reputation; altruism; volunteer;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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