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

  • Jeffrey Carpenter

    ()

  • Caitlin Knowles Myers

    ()

We examine motivations for prosocial behavior using new data on volunteer firefighters that contain a dictator-game based measure of altruism, surveyed measures of other behavioral factors, and call records that provide an objective measure of time spent volunteering. Controlling for a variety of other explanations, we find that the decision to volunteer is positively correlated with altruism as well as with concern for social reputation or image.” 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 image concerns, supporting a prediction that extrinsic incentives can crowd out image motivation for prosocial behavior.

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File URL: http://www.middlebury.edu/services/econ/repec/mdl/ancoec/1023.pdf
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Paper provided by Middlebury College, Department of Economics in its series Middlebury College Working Paper Series with number 1023.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mdl:mdlpap:1023
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  1. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2008. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Risk and Trust Attitudes," CESifo Working Paper Series 2307, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A. & Laury, Susan K., 2002. "Private costs and public benefits: unraveling the effects of altruism and noisy behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 255-276, February.
  3. Bénabou, Roland & Tirole, Jean, 2003. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," IDEI Working Papers 389, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised Jan 2006.
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  6. Carpenter, Jeffrey & Myers, Caitlin Knowles, 2010. "Why volunteer? Evidence on the role of altruism, image, and incentives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 911-920, December.
  7. Freeman, Richard B, 1997. "Working for Nothing: The Supply of Volunteer Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages S140-66, January.
  8. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
  9. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 0042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Ziemek, Susanne, 2006. "Economic analysis of volunteers' motivations--A cross-country study," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 532-555, June.
  11. Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
  12. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "Altruism in Anonymous Dictator Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 181-191, October.
  13. Palfrey, Thomas R & Prisbrey, Jeffrey E, 1997. "Anomalous Behavior in Public Goods Experiments: How Much and Why?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 829-46, December.
  14. Wilhelm, Mark Ottoni & Brown, Eleanor & Rooney, Patrick M. & Steinberg, Richard, 2008. "The intergenerational transmission of generosity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 2146-2156, October.
  15. 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.
  16. Brown, Eleanor & Lankford, Hamilton, 1992. "Gifts of money and gifts of time estimating the effects of tax prices and available time," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 321-341, April.
  17. Duncan, Brian, 1999. "Modeling charitable contributions of time and money," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 213-242, May.
  18. James Andreoni & B. Douglas Bernheim, 2007. "Social Image and the 50-50 Norm: A Theoretical and Experimental Analysis of Audience Effects," Discussion Papers 07-030, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  19. Manski, Charles F & Lerman, Steven R, 1977. "The Estimation of Choice Probabilities from Choice Based Samples," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(8), pages 1977-88, November.
  20. Ariely, Dan & Bracha, Anat & Meier, Stephan, 2007. "Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially," IZA Discussion Papers 2968, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  21. Menchik, Paul L. & Weisbrod, Burton A., 1987. "Volunteer labor supply," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 159-183, March.
  22. 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.
  23. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," Post-Print hal-00173700, HAL.
  24. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
  25. Thomas R. Palfrey & Jeffrey Prisbrey, 2010. "Anomalous Behavior in Public Goods Experiments: How Much and Why?," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1380, David K. Levine.
  26. Jeffrey Carpenter & Cristina Connolly & Caitlin Myers, 2008. "Altruistic behavior in a representative dictator experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 282-298, September.
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