NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Gautam Rao

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Working Papers

January 2014Voting to Tell Others
with Stefano DellaVigna, John A. List, Ulrike Malmendier: w19832
Why do people vote? We argue that social image plays a significant role in explaining turnout: people vote because others will ask. The expectation of being asked motivates turnout if individuals derive pride from telling others that they voted, or feel shame from admitting that they did not vote, provided that lying is costly. We design a field experiment to estimate the effect of social image concerns on voting. In a door-to-door survey about election turnout, we experimentally vary (i) the informational content and use of a flyer pre-announcing the survey, (ii) the duration and payment for the survey, and (iii) the incentives to lie about past voting. Our estimates suggest significant social image concerns. For a plausible range of lying costs, we estimate the monetary value of voting `...
February 2013The Importance of Being Marginal: Gender Differences in Generosity
with Stefano DellaVigna, John A. List, Ulrike Malmendier: w18748
Do men and women have different social preferences? Previous findings are contradictory. We provide a potential explanation using evidence from a field experiment. In a door-to-door solicitation, men and women are equally generous, but women become less generous when it becomes easy to avoid the solicitor. Our structural estimates of the social preference parameters suggest an explanation: women are more likely to be on the margin of giving, partly because of a less dispersed distribution of altruism. We find similar results for the willingness to complete an unpaid survey: women are more likely to be on the margin of participation.

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