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Altruism in Society: Evidence from a Natural Experiment Involving Commuters

Author

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  • Mujcic, Redzo

    () (University of Queensland)

  • Frijters, Paul

    () (London School of Economics)

Abstract

We study social preferences in the form of altruism using data on 959 interactions between random commuters at selected traffic intersections in the city of Brisbane, Australia. By observing real decisions of individual commuters on whether to stop (give way) for others, we find evidence of (i) gender discrimination by both men and women, with women discriminating relatively more against the same sex than men, and men discriminating in favour of the opposite sex more than women; (ii) status-seeking and envy, with individuals who drive a more luxury motor vehicle having a 0.18 lower probability of receiving a kind treatment from others of low status, however this result improves when the decision maker is also of high status; (iii) strong peer effects, with those commuters accompanied by other passengers being 25 percent more likely to sacrifice for others; and (iv) an age effect, with mature-aged people eliciting a higher degree of altruism.

Suggested Citation

  • Mujcic, Redzo & Frijters, Paul, 2011. "Altruism in Society: Evidence from a Natural Experiment Involving Commuters," IZA Discussion Papers 5648, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5648
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Martinsson, Peter, 2006. "Honestly, why are you driving a BMW?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 129-146, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Reyniers, Diane & Bhalla, Richa, 2013. "Reluctant altruism and peer pressure in charitable giving," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 48779, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Diane Reyniers & Richa Bhalla, 2013. "Reluctant altruism and peer pressure in charitable giving," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 8(1), pages 7-15, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    altruism; social interaction; social discrimination; status; peer effects; commuters;

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General

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