NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Time-Inconsistent Charitable Giving

James Andreoni, Marta Serra-Garcia

NBER Working Paper No. 22824
Issued in November 2016, Revised in December 2019
NBER Program(s):Public Economics Program

We motivate this paper with a puzzle. When we asked subjects to give five dollars to charity today, about 30 percent agree, but when the donation would instead be paid in one week, giving increases by 50 percent. The puzzle is that received models of self-control cannot explain this time-inconsistent charitable giving. This suggests a new approach is needed for intertemporal pro-sociality. We present one solution to the puzzle in a theoretical model and two new experiments. Our explanation relies on the rich dynamics of warm glow, and specifically image concerns, in prosocial behavior.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22824

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