This Website uses cookies. By using this website you are agreeing to our use of cookies and to the terms and conditions listed in our data protection policy. Read more

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization

Seasonal Altruism: How Christmas Shapes Unsolicited Charitable Giving

Journal Article
Ekström, Mathias (2018). “Seasonal Altruism: How Christmas Shapes Unsolicited Charitable Giving”. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 153, 177–193.

Mathias Ekström

Christmas is a holiday of Christian origin with traditions that emphasize prosocial behavior, including charitable giving, but does it actually make people more altruistic? Responding to this question poses a challenge because of the confounding factors of charitable tax breaks, reciprocity motives, pressure from the solicitors and persuasive campaigns for giving that are more prevalent in December. In this paper, I use a unique solicitation situation where these factors are eliminated. Based on nine years of data and more than 50 million giving decisions, I provide three main results. First, the month of December is associated with a 14 percent increase in the probability to make ∗Email: I thank the editor and two anonymous referees for valuable comments and suggestions that significantly improved this paper. I also want to thank Annelie Ernryd Jensen at Tomra for access to the data, Anna Norberg and Anneli Leina at We Effect for helpful insights about the charity organization, and Bertil Tungodden and Jonathan de Quidt for comments on an earlier draft. Finally, I want to express my gratitude to Anne Liv Scrase for proofreading, and Daniel Persson, Elsa Persson and Hedvig Henrekson for excellent research assistance. This work was partially supported by the Research Council of Norway through its Centres of Excellence Scheme, FAIR project No 262675. Financial support from the Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius Foundation, and the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation, is also gratefully acknowledged.