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Brother Can You Spare a Dime? Peer Effects in Charitable Solicitation

Author

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  • Jonathan Meer

    (Stanford University)

Abstract

While the effects of peers on charitable giving have been of considerable interest to social scientists, there is little empirical evidence on the magnitude of these effects. A correlation between giving or volunteering by one’s peers and one’s own giving can be driven by self-selection into groups, common shocks that inspire both the solicitor to ask and the individual to give, or social influence. Using data from a university, this paper analyzes whether alumni are more likely to give and give larger amounts when they are solicited by someone with whom they have social ties. Freshman year roommate assignments and the structure of the university’s giving campaigns are used to overcome problems of selection and common shocks. Social ties play a strong causal role in the decision to donate and the average gift size. Additionally, a solicitor’s request is much more effective if he or she shares characteristics, such as race, with the alumnus being solicited.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Meer, 2009. "Brother Can You Spare a Dime? Peer Effects in Charitable Solicitation," Discussion Papers 08-035, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:08-035
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    File URL: http://www-siepr.stanford.edu/repec/sip/08-035.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Fong, Christina M. & Luttmer, Erzo F. P., 2009. "Do Race and Fairness Matter in Generosity? Evidence from a Nationally Representative Charity Experiment," Working Paper Series rwp09-014, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    2. Reyniers, Diane & Bhalla, Richa, 2013. "Reluctant altruism and peer pressure in charitable giving," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 48779, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Diane Reyniers & Richa Bhalla, 2013. "Reluctant altruism and peer pressure in charitable giving," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 8(1), pages 7-15, January.
    4. Fong, Christina M. & Luttmer, Erzo F.P., 2011. "Do fairness and race matter in generosity? Evidence from a nationally representative charity experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5-6), pages 372-394, June.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Charity; Social Influence; Social Ties; Common Shocks; Donations;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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