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Private Philanthropy and the Economics of Public Radio

  • Arthur C. Brooks

Public radio in the United States receives both direct and indirect government funding. Direct subsidies come in the form of lump-sum and matching grants, while indirect subsidies proceed from tax revenues foregone on deductible private donations. Each of these sources of government money impacts charitable giving to public radio. This paper estimates both of these effects, using data on a national sample of public radio stations in the United States from 1990-96. I find that public funding to stations has a positive impact on private giving, but this impact rapidly decreases as the level of government subsidies increases, ultimately becoming negative. The analysis also indicates that increases in state tax rates correspond with higher donation levels. This paper explores the implications of these and other findings for policymakers, public administrators, and nonprofit managers.

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Paper provided by Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University in its series Center for Policy Research Working Papers with number 41.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:max:cprwps:41
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  1. Steven T. Berry & Joel Waldfogel, 1997. "Public Radio in the United States: Does It Correct Market Failure or Cannibalize Commercial Stations?," NBER Working Papers 6057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
  3. Roberts, Russell D, 1984. "A Positive Model of Private Charity and Public Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 136-48, February.
  4. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
  5. Clotfelter, Charles T., 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226110486.
  6. Bruce R. KINGMA & Robert McClelland, 1995. "PUBLIC RADIO STATIONS ARE REALLY, REALLY NOT PUBLIC GOODS: Charitable contributions and impure altruism," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 65-76, 03.
  7. Warr, Peter G., 1982. "Pareto optimal redistribution and private charity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 131-138, October.
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