2018

Seasonal Altruism: How Christmas Shapes Unsolicited Charitable Giving

Reprint No. 2018:47

Author(s): Mathias EkströmYear: 2018 Title: Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization Volume (No.): 153 (September) Pages: 177–193
Online article (restrictions may apply)

Seasonal Altruism: How Christmas Shapes Unsolicited Charitable Giving 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% increase in the probability to make a donation, thereby providing strong support to the notion of seasonal altruism. Second, exploiting a reform that changed the price of giving, I find that this December effect is equivalent to a 32% discount on charitable giving. Finally, half of the December increase in generosity persists into January before returning to the baseline in February.


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

Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union in a Changing World Order

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This book explores how the European Union responds to the ongoing challenges to the liberal international order. These challenges arise both within the EU itself and beyond its borders, and put into question the values of free trade and liberal democracy. 

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