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Why Do People Give? Testing Pure and Impure Altruism

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  • Mark Ottoni-Wilhelm
  • Lise Vesterlund
  • Huan Xie

Abstract

The extant experimental design to investigate warm glow and altruism elicits a single measure of crowd-out. Not recognizing that impure altruism predicts crowd-out is a function of giving-by-others, this design's power to reject pure altruism varies with the level of giving-by-others, and it cannot identify the strength of warm glow and altruism preferences. These limitations are addressed with a new design that elicits crowd-out at a low and at a high level of giving-by-others. Consistent with impure altruism we find decreasing crowd-out as giving-by-others increases. However warm glow is weak in our experiment and altruism largely explains why people give.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Ottoni-Wilhelm & Lise Vesterlund & Huan Xie, 2014. "Why Do People Give? Testing Pure and Impure Altruism," NBER Working Papers 20497, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20497
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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