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The Role of Expectations and Gender in Altruism

  • Rigdon, Mary L.
  • Levine, Adam Seth

A central question in the study of altruism has been whether there is a systematic gender difference in giving behavior. Most experimental economics research has found that women are more generous than men. Evidence also suggests that gender differences depend upon the price of giving: males are more altruistic when the price of giving is low, while females are more altruistic when the price of giving is high. However, in the modified dictator game, a key variable in one’s decision to give is what one expects to receive. Systematic differences in those expectations may well contribute to systematic differences in altruistic behavior. We show that these expectations drive an important and widely reported result. When these expectations are homegrown, we replicate the finding. When expectations of receiving are uniform rather than homegrown, gender differences in price sensitivity disappear: males and females give equal amounts. This suggests that it is gender differences in expectations about others’ giving — not differences in tastes for fairness — that explains the previous results.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 19372.

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Date of creation: 09 Dec 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:19372
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Raymond Fisman & Shachar Kariv & Daniel Markovits, 2007. "Individual Preferences for Giving," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1858-1876, December.
  5. Jeffrey Carpenter, 2002. "Endogenouse Social Preferences," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0209, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  6. Nagore Iriberri & Pedro Rey-Biel, 2011. "The role of role uncertainty in modified dictator games," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 160-180, May.
  7. 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.
  8. Andreoni,J. & Vesterlund,L., 1998. "Which is the fair sex? : Gender differences in altruism," Working papers 10, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  9. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  10. Walter O. Simmons & Rosemarie Emanuele, 2007. "Male-female giving differentials: are women more altruistic?," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 34(6), pages 534-550, November.
  11. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "The relative price of fairness: gender differences in a punishment game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 143-158, August.
  12. Eckel, Catherine C & Grossman, Philip J, 1998. "Are Women Less Selfish Than Men? Evidence from Dictator Experiments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(448), pages 726-35, May.
  13. David Dickinson & J. Tiefenthaler, . "What is fair? Experimental evidence," Working Papers 2000-04, Utah State University, Department of Economics.
  14. repec:feb:artefa:0046 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Selten, Reinhard & Ockenfels, Axel, 1998. "An experimental solidarity game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 517-539, March.
  16. Stephan Meier, 2007. "Do Subsidies Increase Charitable Giving in the Long Run? Matching Donations in a Field Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(6), pages 1203-1222, December.
  17. Rigdon, Mary & Ishii, Keiko & Watabe, Motoki & Kitayama, Shinobu, 2008. "Minimal Social Cues in the Dictator Game," MPRA Paper 8439, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  18. Bolton, Gary E. & Katok, Elena, 1995. "An experimental test for gender differences in beneficent behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 48(3-4), pages 287-292, June.
  19. Douglas Davis & Edward Millner & Robert Reilly, 2005. "Subsidy Schemes and Charitable Contributions: A Closer Look," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 85-106, June.
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