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Discussion Paper
Risk-sharing, altruism, and the factor structure of consumption

We consider four models of consumption that differ with respect to efficient risk-sharing and altruism. They range from complete markets with altruism to family risk-sharing. We use a matched sample of parents and independent children available from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to discriminate between the four models. Our testing procedure is designed to deal with the set of observed independent children being endogenously selected. The combined hypothesis of complete markets and altruism can be decisively rejected, while we fail to reject altruism and hence family risk-sharing for a ...
Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics , Paper 48

Discussion Paper
New evidence on altruism: a study of TIAA-CREF retirees

Economists make extensive use of two separate descriptions of private saving behavior: the life-cycle (or overlapping generations) model, and models with intergenerational altruism. Analysis of the two frameworks is quite different, as are many of the long-run policy implications. This paper looks at evidence, at the microeconomic level, for and against altruism as a principal determinant of private wealth holdings. The database is new: this paper uses a sample of annuitants in the TIAA-CREF retirement system. We employ a combination of qualitative and quantitative information. Results are: ...
Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics , Paper 86

Working Paper
Estate taxation with warm-glow altruism

This article examines the properties of the optimal fiscal policy in an economy with warm-glow altruism (utility interdependence) and heterogeneous individuals. We propose a new efficiency concept, D-efficiency, that considers an implicit constraint in the act of giving: donors cannot bequeath to donees more than their existing resources. Considering this constraint, we show that the market equilibrium is not socially efficient. The efficient level of bequest transfers can be implemented by the market with estate and labor-income subsidies and a capital-income tax. In the absence of lump-sum ...
Working Papers , Paper 2009-004

Working Paper
Altruism, borrowing constraints, and social security

An examination of how intergenerational altruism and borrowing constraints shape the interest rate, savings, and welfare response to funded and unfunded Social Security programs.
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 8918

Working Paper
How much is a friend worth?: directed altruism and enforced reciprocity in social networks

We conduct field experiments in a large real-world social network to examine why decision-makers treat their friends more generously than strangers. Subjects are asked to divide a surplus between themselves and named partners at varying social distances, but only one of these decisions is implemented. We decompose altruistic preferences into baseline altruism towards strangers, and directed altruism towards friends. In order to separate the motives that are altruistic from the ones that anticipate a future interaction or repayment, we implement an anonymous treatment in which neither player ...
Working Papers , Paper 07-11

Working Paper
Active decisions and pro-social behavior

In this paper, we propose a decision framework where people are individually asked to either actively consent to or dissent from some pro-social behavior. We hypothesize that confronting individuals with the choice of whether to engage in a specific pro-social behavior contributes to the formation of issue-specific altruistic preferences, while simultaneously involving a commitment. The hypothesis is tested in a large-scale field experiment on blood donations. We find that this ?active-decision? intervention substantially increases the actual donation behavior of people who had not fully ...
Working Papers , Paper 07-13

Working Paper
Social networks and vaccination decisions

We combine information on social networks with medical records and survey data in order to examine how friends affect one?s decision to get vaccinated against the flu. The random assignment of undergraduates to residential halls at a large private university allows us to estimate how peer effects influence health beliefs and vaccination choices. Our results indicate that social exposure to medical information raises people?s perceptions of the benefits of immunization. The average student?s belief about the vaccine?s health value increases by $5.00 when an additional 10 percent of her friends ...
Working Papers , Paper 07-12

Working Paper
Games with synergistic preferences

In economic situations a player often has preferences regarding not only his or her own outcome but also regarding what happens to fellow players, concerns that are entirely apart from any strategic considerations. While this can be modeled directly by simply writing down a player's final preferences, these are commonly unknown a priori. In many cases it is therefore both helpful and instructive to explicitly model these interactions. This paper, building on a model due to Bergstrom (1989, 1999), presents a simple structure in the context of game theory that incorporates the "synergies" ...
Working Papers , Paper 11-15

Working Paper
Minimally acceptable altruism and the ultimatum game

I suppose that people react with anger when others show themselves not to be minimally altruistic. With heterogeneous agents, this can account for the experimental results of ultimatum and dictator games. Moreover, it can account for the surprisingly large fraction of individuals who offer an even split, with parameter values that are more plausible than those required to explain outcomes in these experiments with the models of Levine (1998), Fehr and Schmidt (1999), Dickinson (2000), and Bolton and Ockenfels (2000).
Working Papers , Paper 06-12

Working Paper
Blood donations and incentives: evidence from a field experiment

There is a longstanding concern that material incentives might undermine prosocial motivation, leading to a decrease in blood donations rather than an increase. This paper provides an empirical test of how material incentives affect blood donations in a large-scale field experiment spanning three months and involving more than 10,000 previous donors. We examine two types of incentive: a lottery ticket and a free cholesterol test. Lottery tickets significantly increase donations, in particular among less motivated donors. The cholesterol test leads to no discernable impact on usable blood ...
Working Papers , Paper 08-3