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Seasonal altruism: How Christmas shapes unsolicited charitable giving

Mathias Ekström

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2018, vol. 153, issue C, 177-193

Abstract: Christmas is a holiday of Christian origin with traditions that emphasize prosocial behavior, including charitable giving, but does it actually make people more altruistic? Responding to this question poses a challenge because of the confounding factors of charitable tax breaks, reciprocity motives, pressure from the solicitors and persuasive campaigns for giving that are more prevalent in December. In this paper, I use a unique solicitation situation where these factors are eliminated. Based on nine years of data and more than 50 million giving decisions, I provide three main results. First, the month of December is associated with a 14% increase in the probability to make a donation, thereby providing strong support to the notion of seasonal altruism. Second, exploiting a reform that changed the price of giving, I find that this December effect is equivalent to a 32% discount on charitable giving. Finally, half of the December increase in generosity persists into January before returning to the baseline in February.

JEL-codes: C33 D03 D64 H41 Z10 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:153:y:2018:i:c:p:177-193

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