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Viewers like you: community norms and contributions to public broadcasting


  • Knack, Stephen
  • Kropf, Martha


The logic of collective action (Olson 1965) suggests that public broadcasting may be underprovided, because non-contributors are not excluded from receiving the benefits. Why do so many individuals voluntarily contribute to public television, even though they can obtain the benefits of public television without contributing? We explore the hypothesis that giving to public broadcasting is determined in part by the strength of "civic norms" that limit the opportunistic behavior of individuals in large-numbers prisoners' dilemma settings. We also explore a variety of other explanations for charitable giving and collective action, including group size, tax deductibility, crowd out, and selective incentives. Our findings provide evidence linking civic norms and giving to public broadcasting. Education and income have indirect effects through strengthening civic norms. We find some evidence that selective incentives increase the average size of contributions among those who contribute.

Suggested Citation

  • Knack, Stephen & Kropf, Martha, 2003. "Viewers like you: community norms and contributions to public broadcasting," MPRA Paper 27248, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:27248

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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 464-477, June.
    2. Ribar, David C. & Wilhelm, Mark O., 1995. "Charitable Contributions to International Relief and Development," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 48(2), pages 229-244, June.
    3. Goetze, Linda & Glover, T F & Biswas, B, 1993. "The Effects of Group Size and Income on Contributions to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 77(2), pages 407-414, October.
    4. DiPasquale, Denise & Glaeser, Edward L., 1999. "Incentives and Social Capital: Are Homeowners Better Citizens?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 354-384, March.
    5. 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.
    6. Clotfelter, Charles T., 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226110486, December.
    7. Sugden, Robert, 1984. "Reciprocity: The Supply of Public Goods through Voluntary Contributions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376), pages 772-787, December.
    8. Charles T. Clotfelter, 1985. "Federal Tax Policy and Charitable Giving," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number clot85-1.
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    Cited by:

    1. René Bekkers & Ingrid Veldhuizen, 2008. "Geographical Differences In Blood Donation And Philanthropy In The Netherlands - What Role For Social Capital?," Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG, vol. 99(4), pages 483-496, September.
    2. Prasenjit Banerjee & Rupayan Pal & Jason F. Shogren, 2016. "Honor and stigma in mechanisms for environmental protection," Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai Working Papers 2016-017, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India.
    3. Prasenjit Banerjee & Rupayan Pal, 2016. "Honor and Stigma in Mechanisms for Environmental Protection," Working Papers id:10883, eSocialSciences.

    More about this item


    collective action; selective incentives; norms; free riding; social capital; public goods;

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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