Philanthropy in a Changing World: An Evolving Attitude to Giving?
Even though philanthropy tends to be considered a sociological theme rather than an economic one, it poses a number of questions that challenge economists as well. We chose to address the following: How can economists contribute to the theories related to philanthropy? Can we consider voluntary giving a demonstration of generosity rather than a market-based solution? We examine some terms that are used in public economics theory and use them to explore the issues of philanthropy. The terms we reviewed are: the Samaritan’s Dilemma, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, and the Free-Rider Problem, which we consider to be interesting and inspiring (Stone 2008). We answer the second question by means of sociological theory. The economists who investigate philanthropy are repeatedly faced with the obvious fact that it does not involve any buying and/or selling; it is not a marketplace operation. We have to find and identify the social values of donors and volunteers rather than their economic values, because economists are not fully able to explain empathy, altruism, and helpful behaviour using traditional economic principles (Rutherford 2008). The theoretical frame should be supported by relevant empirical data. There is, however, a lack of both theoretical and empirical work in this area in the Czech Republic. Before starting a large-scale survey, we decided to conduct smaller pre-research probes into people’s attitudes towards altruism, philanthropy, and giving. Even though our sample was not fully representative, the responses that we collected generated interesting findings about people’s views and attitudes. The first wave of data was collected between February and April 2009; the second wave between February and April 2010.
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|Date of revision:||Mar 2013|
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- Alasdair Rutherford, 2010. "Get by with a little help from my friends: A recent history of charitable organisations in economic theory," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(4), pages 1031-1046.
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