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The Price of Warm Glow

  • Lilley, Andrew

    (University of Sydney)

  • Slonim, Robert

    ()

    (University of Sydney)

This paper presents a model and experimental evidence to explain the "volunteering puzzle" where agents prefer volunteering time to donating money when monetary donations are, ceteris paribus, more efficient for providing resources to charity. In the model agents receive heterogeneous utility from pure and impure altruism (Andreoni 1989) that permits warm glow to vary between monetary donations and volunteering, thus allowing preferences for impure altruism to rationalize inefficient allocation decisions. We define a measure of the price of impure altruism as the additional proportion of income sacrificed by a donor to give in the dimension that maximizes her utility, holding the overall charitable contribution constant. To test the predictions of the model we ran an experiment in which we varied within-subjects the costs and benefits of monetary and volunteer donations. We also primed between-subjects the emphasis on the donation value to the charity (pure altruism) or the sacrifice to the donor (impure warm-glow altruism). Consistent with the model's predictions, the experiment shows that priming pure altruism increases the efficiency of donation choices, substitutability of donations between money and time and crowding out. Nonetheless, while greater impurity results in a more inefficient allocation of resources, empirically we find it increases overall charitable donations. We discuss the implications of our experimental results for both theory and policy.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7445.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2013
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Public Economics, 2014, 114, 58-74
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7445
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  1. Jean Tirole & Roland Bénabou, 2006. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1652-1678, December.
  2. Duncan, Brian, 1999. "Modeling charitable contributions of time and money," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 213-242, May.
  3. Bauer, Thomas K. & Bredtmann, Julia & Schmidt, Christoph M., 2012. "Time vs. Money: The Supply of Voluntary Labor and Charitable Donations across Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 6701, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Dan Ariely & Anat Bracha & Stephan Meier, 2009. "Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 544-55, March.
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  7. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  8. Tonin, Mirco & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2010. "Disentangling the sources of pro-socially motivated effort: A field experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 1086-1092, December.
  9. Freeman, Richard Barry, 1997. "Working for Nothing: The Supply of Volunteer Labor," Scholarly Articles 4632239, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Null, C., 2011. "Warm glow, information, and inefficient charitable giving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5-6), pages 455-465, June.
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  14. James Andreoni & A. Abigail Payne, 2003. "Do Government Grants to Private Charities Crowd Out Giving or Fund-raising?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 792-812, June.
  15. 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 1447-58, December.
  16. John A. List, 2007. "On the Interpretation of Giving in Dictator Games," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 482-493.
  17. Femida Handy & Eliakim Katz, 2008. "Donating behavior: if time is money, which to give? A preliminary analysis," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 35(4), pages 323-332, July.
  18. Menchik, Paul L. & Weisbrod, Burton A., 1987. "Volunteer labor supply," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 159-183, March.
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  21. Alexander L. Brown & Jonathan Meer & J. Forrest Williams, 2013. "Why Do People Volunteer? An Experimental Analysis of Preferences for Time Donations," NBER Working Papers 19066, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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