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Why without pay? Intrinsic motivation in unpaid labour supply


  • Bruna Bruno
  • Damiano Fiorillo


Economic theory explains the supply of volunteering alternatively as an ordinary consumer good or an investment one. This paper provides a simultaneous approach considering both the objectives, by using the psychological distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, in order to reconcile conflicting results reported in the literature. According to the simultaneity approach, the paper develops a theoretical model of unpaid labour supply within an agent’s two-period utility maximization problem, taking into account the role of psychological motivation. The theoretical findings are tested with a sample selection model for Italy, by using 1997 Multipurpose Households Survey on everyday life issues of Istat. Robustness analysis and endogeneity test for intrinsic motivation are also performed. Empirical analysis rejects the hypothesis that only a consumption or investment motive could explain Italian volunteers’ behaviour, supporting the hypothesis that both motives interact in shaping regular unpaid labour supply, with a stronger impact of consumption motives. The relevant variables for frequently supplied unpaid labour are intrinsic motivation, age, household income, family responsibilities and activity sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruna Bruno & Damiano Fiorillo, 2011. "Why without pay? Intrinsic motivation in unpaid labour supply," Discussion Papers 3_2011, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:prt:dpaper:3_2011

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paul S. Carlin, 2001. "Evidence on the Volunteer Labor Supply of Married Women," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 801-824, April.
    2. Prouteau, Lionel & Wolff, François-Charles, 2008. "On the relational motive for volunteer work," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 314-335, June.
    3. Stephan Meier & Alois Stutzer, 2008. "Is Volunteering Rewarding in Itself?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 75(297), pages 39-59, February.
    4. Cappellari, Lorenzo & Ghinetti, Paolo & Turati, Gilberto, 2011. "On time and money donations," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 853-867.
    5. Carpenter, Jeffrey & Myers, Caitlin Knowles, 2010. "Why volunteer? Evidence on the role of altruism, image, and incentives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 911-920, December.
    6. Damiano Fiorillo, 2009. "Volunteer Labour Supply: Micro-econometric Evidence from Italy," AIEL Series in Labour Economics,in: Marco Musella & Sergio Destefanis (ed.), Paid and Unpaid Labour in the Social Economy. An International Perspective, edition 1, chapter 10, pages 165-181 AIEL - Associazione Italiana Economisti del Lavoro.
    7. Bruno, B., 2010. "Rewarding my Self. The role of Self Esteem and Self Determination in Motivation Crowding Theory," MPRA Paper 23117, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. James Banks & Tanner, Tanner, 1998. "Modelling voluntary labour supply," IFS Working Papers W98/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    9. Beraldo S. & Turati G., 2007. "Non-Profit Organizations, employment and the Mezzogiorno," Rivista economica del Mezzogiorno, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 3-4, pages 857-896.
    10. Brown, Eleanor & Lankford, Hamilton, 1992. "Gifts of money and gifts of time estimating the effects of tax prices and available time," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 321-341, April.
    11. Menchik, Paul L. & Weisbrod, Burton A., 1987. "Volunteer labor supply," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 159-183, March.
    12. Kathleen M. Day & Rose Anne Devlin, 1996. "Volunteerism and Crowding Out: Canadian Econometric Evidence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(1), pages 37-53, February.
    13. Franz Hackl & Martin Halla & Gerald J. Pruckner, 2007. "Volunteering and Income - The Fallacy of the Good Samaritan?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 77-104, February.
    14. Prouteau, Lionel & Wolff, Francois-Charles, 2006. "Does volunteer work pay off in the labor market?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 992-1013, December.
    15. 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.
    16. Apinunmahakul, Amornrat & Devlin, Rose Anne, 2008. "Social networks and private philanthropy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 309-328, February.
    17. Francois Vaillancourt, 1994. "To Volunteer or Not: Canada, 1987," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 27(4), pages 813-826, November.
    18. Damiano Fiorillo, 2009. "Do monetary rewards crowd out intrinsic motivations of volunteers? Some empirical evidence for Italian volunteers," Discussion Papers 3_2009, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.
    19. van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2008. "Environmental regulation of households: An empirical review of economic and psychological factors," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(4), pages 559-574, July.
    20. Lorenzo Cappellari & Gilberto Turati, 2004. "Volunteer Labour Supply: the role of workers' motivations," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 75(4), pages 619-643, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bruna BRUNO & Damiano FIORILLO, 2016. "Voluntary Work And Wages," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 87(2), pages 175-202, December.

    More about this item


    Intrinsic motivation; investment and consumption motives; volunteering.;

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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