NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Using Experimental Economics to Measure the Effects of a Natural Educational Experiment on Altruism

Eric Bettinger, Robert Slonim

NBER Working Paper No. 11725
Issued in October 2005
NBER Program(s):   ED   CH

Economic research examining how educational intervention programs affect primary and secondary schooling focuses largely on test scores although the interventions can affect many other outcomes. This paper examines how an educational intervention, a voucher program, affected students' altruism. The voucher program used a lottery to allocate scholarships among low-income applicant families with children in K-8th grade. By exploiting the lottery to identify the voucher effects, and using experimental economic methods, we measure the effects of the intervention on children's altruism. We also measure the voucher program's effects on parents' altruism and several academic outcomes including test scores. We find that the educational intervention positively affects students' altruism towards charitable organizations but not towards their peers. We fail to find statistically significant effects of the vouchers on parents' altruism or test scores.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11725

Published: Bettinger, Eric and Robert Slonim. "Using Experimental Economics To Measure The Effects Of A Natural Educational Experiment On Altruism," Journal of Public Economics, 2006, v90(8-9,Sep), 1625-1648.

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