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Impure Altruism in Dictators’ Giving

  • Korenok Oleg


    (Department of Economics, VCU School of Business)

  • Edward L. Millner


    (Department of Economics, VCU School of Business)

  • Laura Razzolini


    (Department of Economics, VCU School of Business)

We design an experiment to test whether the behavior of dictators can be rationalized by the impurely altruistic utility function. By giving the recipients an endowment of varying levels, we create an environment that allows for observable differences in behavior depending upon whether pure or impure altruism is the primary motivation. We find that the behavior of 66 percent of the dictators can be rationalized by the impurely altruistic utility function, while only 40 percent of the dictators make choices that are consistent with the purely altruistic utility function.

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Paper provided by VCU School of Business, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1002.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2010
Date of revision: Jan 2011
Handle: RePEc:vcu:wpaper:1002
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  2. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A. & Laury, Susan K., 2002. "Private costs and public benefits: unraveling the effects of altruism and noisy behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 255-276, February.
  3. Kingma, Bruce Robert, 1989. "An Accurate Measurement of the Crowd-Out Effect, Income Effect, and Price Effect for Charitable Contributions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1197-1207, October.
  4. Riber, D.C. & Wilhelm, M.O., 1996. "Altruistic and Joy-of-Giving Motivations in Charitable Behavior," Papers 1-96-4, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  5. Jonathan Gruber & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2005. "Faith-Based Charity and Crowd Out during the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 11332, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Okten, Cagla & Weisbrod, Burton A., 2000. "Determinants of donations in private nonprofit markets," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 255-272, February.
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  11. Palfrey, Thomas R & Prisbrey, Jeffrey E, 1997. "Anomalous Behavior in Public Goods Experiments: How Much and Why?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 829-46, December.
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  13. Konow, James, 2006. "Mixed Feelings: Theories and Evidence of Warm Glow and Altruism," MPRA Paper 2727, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  14. 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.
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  16. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  17. James C. Cox & Vjollca Sadiraj, . "Direct Tests of Models of Social Preferences and a New Model," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2006-13, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, revised Jul 2010.
  18. Khanna, Jyoti & Posnett, John & Sandler, Todd, 1995. "Charity donations in the UK: New evidence based on panel data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 257-272, February.
  19. Hungerman, Daniel M., 2005. "Are church and state substitutes? Evidence from the 1996 welfare reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2245-2267, December.
  20. John A. List, 2007. "On the Interpretation of Giving in Dictator Games," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 482-493.
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