Generosity and Wealth: Experimental Evidence from Bogotá Stratification
CentER Discussion Paper No. 2019-031
41 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2019
Date Written: November 5, 2019
This paper combines laboratory experiments with a unique feature of the city of Bogotá to uncover the relationship between generosity and wealth. Bogotá is divided by law into six socio-economic strata which are close proxies of household wealth and income. We recruit subjects from different strata and run a series of double-blind dictator games where the recipient is the NGO Techo-Colombia, which builds transitional housing for homeless families. We identify the stratum of each subject anonymously and blindly, and match their donations with their stratum. In a first experiment we provide a fixed endowment to all participants and find that donations are significantly increasing with wealth. However, in a second experiment, we show that this is not because the rich are intrinsically more generous, but because the experimental endowment has lower real value for them. With endowments that are equivalent to their daily expenditures, the rich, the middle-class and the poor give a similar proportion of their stratum-equivalent endowment. Moreover, we find that the motivation to donate is similar across strata, where the generosity act is explained mainly by warm-glow rather than pure altruism.
Keywords: Charitable giving; Social stratification; Inequality; Social Preferences; Dictator game
JEL Classification: C91; D31; D64
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation