IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

To Give or Not to Give: The Price of Contributing and the Provision of Public Goods

  • Johannes Diederich
  • Timo Goeschl

We examine the relationship between the price of giving and the decision to contribute in a framed field experiment (n = 2,440). In a departure from previous research using match rates and rebates, we vary the price of contributing to the public good directly. Treatment groups differ between subjects by the amount of money subjects have to give up in order to provide one unit of the public good. In contrast to earlier results, the theoretical prediction of a clear negative relationship between price and the decision whether to contribute is borne out by the experimental evidence. We estimate the mean elasticity of the probability to contribute as -0.31. The direct price effect is robust across specifications including sociodemographic controls for the highly heterogenous, Internet-representative non-student sample of subjects.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to the full text is generally limited to series subscribers, however if the top level domain of the client browser is in a developing country or transition economy free access is provided. More information about subscriptions and free access is available at Free access is also available to older working papers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19332.

in new window

Date of creation: Aug 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19332
Note: EEE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Jeffrey Carpenter & Cristina Connolly & Caitlin Myers, 2008. "Altruistic behavior in a representative dictator experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 282-298, September.
  2. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "Altruism in Anonymous Dictator Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 181-191, October.
  3. James Banks & Zoë Oldfield, 2006. "Understanding pensions: cognitive function, numerical ability and retirement saving," IFS Working Papers W06/05, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  4. Jay R. Corrigan & Matthew C. Rousu, 2008. "Testing Whether Field Auction Experiments are Demand Revealing in Practice," Working Papers 0804, Kenyon College, Department of Economics.
  5. Todd Cherry & Peter Frykblom & Jason Shogren & John List & Melonie Sullivan, 2004. "Laboratory Testbeds and Non-Market Valuation: The Case of Bidding Behavior in a Second-Price Auction with an Outside Option," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 29(3), pages 285-294, November.
  6. Keeler, James P & James, William L & Abdel-Ghany, Mohamed, 1985. "The Relative Size of Windfall Income and the Permanent Income Hypothesis," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(3), pages 209-15, June.
  7. Huck, Steffen & Rasul, Imran, 2010. "Matched Fundraising: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 5267, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Douglas D. Davis & Edward L. Millner, 2004. "Rebates, Matches, and Consumer Behavior," Working Papers 0401, VCU School of Business, Department of Economics.
  9. Dean Karlan & John A. List, 2006. "Does Price Matter in Charitable Giving? Evidence from a Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment," Working Papers 1, The Field Experiments Website.
  10. Catherine Eckel & Philip Grossman, 2008. "Subsidizing charitable contributions: a natural field experiment comparing matching and rebate subsidies," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 234-252, September.
  11. Jordi Brandts & Tatsuyoshi Saijo & Arthur Schram, 2004. "How Universal is Behavior? A Four Country Comparison of Spite and Cooperation in Voluntary Contribution Mechanisms," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 119(3_4), pages 381-424, 06.
  12. Starmer, Chris & Sugden, Robert, 1991. "Does the Random-Lottery Incentive System Elicit True Preferences? An Experimental Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 971-78, September.
  13. David Reiley & John List, 2008. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00091, The Field Experiments Website.
  14. Feldstein, Martin S & Taylor, Amy, 1976. "The Income Tax and Charitable Contributions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(6), pages 1201-22, November.
  15. William D. Nordhaus, 1993. "Reflections on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 11-25, Fall.
  16. Eric Bettinger & Robert Slonim, 2006. "Patience among children," Artefactual Field Experiments 00043, The Field Experiments Website.
  17. John A. List & Jason F. Shogren, 1999. "Price Information and Bidding Behavior in Repeated Second-Price Auctions," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(4), pages 942-949.
  18. repec:feb:framed:0078 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. 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.
  20. Dean S. Karlan, 2005. "Using Experimental Economics to Measure Social Capital and Predict Financial Decisions," Working Papers 182, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  21. Grether, David M. & Plott, Charles R., . "Economic Theory of Choice and the Preference Reversal Phenomenon," Working Papers 152, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  22. Berrens, Robert P. & Bohara, Alok K. & Jenkins-Smith, Hank C. & Silva, Carol L. & Weimer, David L., 2004. "Information and effort in contingent valuation surveys: application to global climate change using national internet samples," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 331-363, March.
  23. 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.
  24. Karlan, Dean & List, John A. & Shafir, Eldar, 2011. "Small matches and charitable giving: Evidence from a natural field experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5), pages 344-350.
  25. Harrison, Glen W. & Ronald M. Harstad & E. Elisabet Rutström, 1995. "Experimental Methods and Elicitation of Values," Discussion Paper Serie B 349, University of Bonn, Germany.
  26. James Andreoni & Lise Vesterlund, 2001. "Which Is The Fair Sex? Gender Differences In Altruism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 293-312, February.
  27. 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.
  28. Johannes Diederich & Timo Goeschl, 2014. "Willingness to Pay for Voluntary Climate Action and Its Determinants: Field-Experimental Evidence," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 57(3), pages 405-429, March.
  29. Mohammed Abdellaoui & Laetitia Placido & Aurélien Baillon & P.P. Wakker, 2011. "The Rich Domain of Uncertainty: Source Functions and Their Experimental Implementation," Post-Print hal-00609214, HAL.
  30. Sefton, Martin, 1992. "Incentives in simple bargaining games," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 263-276, June.
  31. Richard S. J. Tol, 2010. "The Economic Impact of Climate Change," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 11(s1), pages 13-37, 05.
  32. Harbaugh, William T & Krause, Kate, 2000. "Children's Altruism in Public Good and Dictator Experiments," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 38(1), pages 95-109, January.
  33. Smith, Vincent H. & Kehoe, Michael R. & Cremer, Mary E., 1995. "The private provision of public goods: Altruism and voluntary giving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 107-126, September.
  34. Kate Krause & William Harbaugh, 2000. "Children's altruism in public good and dictator experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00054, The Field Experiments Website.
  35. Bolle, Friedel, 1990. "High reward experiments without high expenditure for the experimenter?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 157-167, June.
  36. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2003. "Rebate versus matching: does how we subsidize charitable contributions matter?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(3-4), pages 681-701, March.
  37. Richard H. Thaler & Eric J. Johnson, 1990. "Gambling with the House Money and Trying to Break Even: The Effects of Prior Outcomes on Risky Choice," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(6), pages 643-660, June.
  38. Maribeth Coller & Melonie Williams, 1999. "Eliciting Individual Discount Rates," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 107-127, December.
  39. Ockenfels, Axel & Weimann, Joachim, 1999. "Types and patterns: an experimental East-West-German comparison of cooperation and solidarity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 275-287, February.
  40. Feldstein, Martin & Clotfelter, Charles, 1976. "Tax incentives and charitable contributions in the United States : A microeconometric analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1-2), pages 1-26.
  41. Krasteva, Silvana & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2013. "(Un)Informed charitable giving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 14-26.
  42. Rene Bekkers, 2007. "Measuring altruistic behavior in surveys: The all-or-nothing dictator game," Artefactual Field Experiments 00102, The Field Experiments Website.
  43. Fredrik Carlsson & Haoran He & Peter Martinsson, 2013. "Easy come, easy go," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 190-207, June.
  44. John List, 2004. "Young, selfish, and male: Field evidence of social preferences," Natural Field Experiments 00298, The Field Experiments Website.
  45. Cubitt, Robin P & Starmer, Chris & Sugden, Robert, 1998. "Dynamic Choice and the Common Ratio Effect: An Experimental Investigation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1362-80, September.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19332. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.