A Gift is Not Always a Gift: Gift Exchange in a Voucher Experiment

35 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2011

See all articles by Sascha O. Becker

Sascha O. Becker

Monash University - Department of Economics; University of Warwick

Dolores Messer

University of Bern

Stefan C. Wolter

Swiss Coordination Centre for Research in Education (SKBF); University of Bern - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 15, 2011

Abstract

Different from traditional gift exchange experiments, we study a field experiment where a random subsample of participants in the Swiss Labor Force Survey was sent vouchers to be used in adult training courses. Importantly for our purposes, actual voucher redemption can be traced. This gives the unique opportunity to study whether gift exchange in the form of participation in future rounds of the survey depends on the perceived usefulness of the gift. We find that the group of voucher recipients as a whole has significantly higher response rates in the survey six months after the vouchers were sent out. There is considerable heterogeneity, though. Our results point to a long-lasting gift exchange relationship for the sub-group that had redeemed their vouchers. Contrary to this group, the individuals who did not redeem their vouchers, had a response pattern that was not significantly different from the voucher non-recipients.

Keywords: gift exchange, reciprocity, field experiment, long-run effects

JEL Classification: C420, C930, Z130

Suggested Citation

Becker, Sascha O. and Messer, Dolores and Wolter, Stefan C., A Gift is Not Always a Gift: Gift Exchange in a Voucher Experiment (June 15, 2011). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 3488, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1865169 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1865169

Sascha O. Becker

Monash University - Department of Economics ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3
Australia

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Dolores Messer

University of Bern ( email )

Gesellschaftsstrasse 49
CH-3012 Bern, BERN 3001
Switzerland

Stefan C. Wolter (Contact Author)

Swiss Coordination Centre for Research in Education (SKBF) ( email )

CH - 5000 Aarau
Switzerland
+41 62 835 23 90 (Phone)
+41 62 835 23 99 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.skbf-csre.ch

University of Bern - Department of Economics ( email )

Gesellschaftstrasse 49
Bern, CH-3012
Switzerland
+41 31 631 40 95 (Phone)
+41 31 631 39 92 (Fax)

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