New York University Abu Dhabi
Social Science Division
P.O. Box 129 188
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|March 2017||Are the Rich More Selfish than the Poor, or Do They Just Have More Money? A Natural Field Experiment|
with James Andreoni, Jan Stoop: w23229
The growing concentration of resources among the rich has re-ignited a discussion about whether the rich are more selfish than others. While many recent studies show the rich behaving less pro-socially, endogeneity and selection problems prevent safe inferences about differences in social preferences. We present new evidence from a natural field experiment in which we “misdeliver” envelopes to rich and poor households in a Dutch city, varying their contents to identify motives for returning them. Our raw data indicate the rich behave more pro-socially. Controlling for pressures associated with poverty and the marginal utility of money, however, we find no difference in social preferences. The primary distinction between rich and poor is simply that the rich have more money.