NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Crowding Out and Crowding In of Private Donations and Government Grants

Garth Heutel

NBER Working Paper No. 15004
Issued in May 2009
NBER Program(s):   PE

A large literature examines the interaction of private and public funding of public goods and charities, much of it testing if public funding crowds out private funding. This paper makes two contributions to this literature. First, the crowding out effect could also occur in the opposite direction: in response to the level of private contributions, the government may alter its funding. I model how crowding out can manifest in both directions. Second, with asymmetric information about the quality of a public good, one source of funding may act as a signal about that quality and crowd in the other source of funding. I test for crowding out or crowding in either direction using a large panel data set gathered from nonprofit organizations' tax returns. I find strong evidence that government grants crowd in private donations, consistent with the signaling model. Regression point estimates indicate that private donations crowd out government grants, but they are not statistically significant.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15004

Published: Published online before print May 30, 2012, doi: 10.1177/1091142112447525 Public Finance Review May 30, 2012 1091142112447525 citation courtesy of

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