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Does One Charitable Contribution Come at the Expense of Another?
Abstract and Figures
This paper defines, discusses, and measures â€œexpenditure substitutionâ€ in charitable giving. Motivated by a model of conditional demand, I consider the extent to which a â€œtemporary shockâ€ that increases an individual's donation to one cause by a particular amount displaces her gifts to other charitable causes. I use the 2001-2007 waves of the PSID/COPPS, the first data set of its kind, to identify this. Households that give more to one type of charity tend to give more to others. However, many of the correlations between the residuals after fixed-effects regressions are negative and significant, particularly for larger donors and for certain categories of charitable giving. Given plausible econometric assumptions, the negative correlations are strong evidence of expenditure substitution. Overall, these results suggest heterogeneous motivations for giving: small givers may be mainly driven by temporary shocks and personal appeals while larger givers may have concave multi-charity warm-glow preferences.
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