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What do gifts buy? A model of philanthropy and tithing based on prestige and warm glow

  • William T. Harbaugh

    (Univ. of Oregon)

Charities publicize the donations they receive, generally according to dollar categories rather than the exact amount. Donors in turn tend to give the minimum amount necessary to get into a category. These facts suggest that donors have a taste for having their donations made public. This paper models the effects of such a taste for "prestige" on the behavior of donors and charities. I show how charities can increase donations by using categories. The paper also shows conditions under which tithing, or reporting donations as percentages of income, can maximize donations, and examines the effect of a taste for prestige on competition between charities.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Public Economics with number 9606003.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: 27 Jun 1996
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:9606003
Note: Type of Document - Word 6.0; prepared on IBM PC ; pages: 45; figures: included
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-93, Nov.-Dec..
  2. Hollander, Heinz, 1990. "A Social Exchange Approach to Voluntary Cooperation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1157-67, December.
  3. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-58, December.
  4. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Privately provided public goods in a large economy: The limits of altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 57-73, February.
  5. McDonald, James B, 1984. "Some Generalized Functions for the Size Distribution of Income," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 647-63, May.
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