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A Note on Subsidizing Gifts

  • Louis Kaplow

Altruistically motivated gifts involve a species of consumption externality. Donors obtain an altruistic benefit from the effect of their gifts on donees' utility but do not take into account that the benefit to donees is itself relevant to social welfare. The level of gift-giving thus will be lower than is optimal. A subsidy can correct this problem, while compulsory transfers (assuming the state lacks information about who is altruistic) and bargaining between donors and donees cannot. The rationale for subsidizing gifts offered here does not depend on whether the donee's activity is a public good (as with gifts for medical research) or whether the transfer tends to equalize the wealth of donors and donees -- factors emphasized in the existing literature on the subject.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w4868.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4868.

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Date of creation: Sep 1994
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Publication status: published as Journal of Public Economics, vol. 58, (1995)., pp. 469-477.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4868
Note: LE PE
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  1. 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.
  2. Bernheim, B Douglas & Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H, 1985. "The Strategic Bequest Motive," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1045-76, December.
  3. Myerson, Roger B, 1979. "Incentive Compatibility and the Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 61-73, January.
  4. Clotfelter, Charles T., 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226110486, July.
  5. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Privately provided public goods in a large economy: The limits of altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 57-73, February.
  6. Charles T. Clotfelter, 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number clot85-1, May.
  7. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1987. "Pareto Efficient and Optimal Taxation and the New New Welfare Economics," NBER Working Papers 2189, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-93, Nov.-Dec..
  9. Friedman, David D, 1988. "Does Altruism Produce Efficient Outcomes? Marshall versus Kaldor," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 1-13, January.
  10. Bernheim, B Douglas & Stark, Oded, 1988. "Altruism within the Family Reconsidered: Do Nice Guys Finish Last?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1034-45, December.
  11. Hochman, Harold M & Rodgers, James D, 1969. "Pareto Optimal Redistribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(4), pages 542-57, Part I Se.
  12. Cox, Donald, 1987. "Motives for Private Income Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 508-46, June.
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