Hey Look at Me: The Effect of Giving Circles on Giving
Dean S. Karlan
Yale University; Innovations for Poverty Action; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
December 19, 2011
Yale Economics Department Working Paper No. 96
Yale University Economic Growth Center Discussion Paper No. 1006
Theories abound for why individuals give to charity. We conduct a field experiment with donors to a Yale University service club to test the impact of a promise of public recognition on giving. Some may claim that they respond to an offer of public recognition not to improve their social standing, but rather to motivate others to give. To tease apart these two theories, we conduct a laboratory experiment with undergraduates, and found no evidence to support the alternative, altruistic motivation. We conclude that charitable gifts increase in response to the promise of public recognition primarily because of individuals' desire to improve their social image.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 19
Keywords: prosocial behavior, experiments, voluntary contributions, social image
JEL Classification: D64, C90, L30
Date posted: February 26, 2012
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