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Hey Look at Me: The Effect of Giving Circles on Giving

19 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2012  

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)

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Date Written: December 19, 2011

Abstract

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.

Keywords: prosocial behavior, experiments, voluntary contributions, social image

JEL Classification: D64, C90, L30

Suggested Citation

Karlan, Dean S., Hey Look at Me: The Effect of Giving Circles on Giving (December 19, 2011). Yale Economics Department Working Paper No. 96; Yale University Economic Growth Center Discussion Paper No. 1006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2009454 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2009454

Dean S. Karlan (Contact Author)

Yale University ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, CT 06520-8269
United States

Innovations for Poverty Action ( email )

1731 Connecticut Ave, 4th floor
New Haven, CT 20009
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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab ( email )

E60-246
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

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