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American Economic Journal: Economic Policy: Vol. 1 No. 1 (February 2009)

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Altruism and the Child Cycle of Alumni Donations

Article Citation

Meer, Jonathan, and Harvey S. Rosen. 2009. "Altruism and the Child Cycle of Alumni Donations." American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 1(1): 258-86.

DOI: 10.1257/pol.1.1.258

Abstract

We study alumni contributions to an anonymous research university. If alumni believe donations will increase the likelihood of their child's admission, and if this belief helps motivate their giving, then the pattern of giving should vary systematically with the ages of their children, whether the children ultimately apply to the university, and the admissions outcome. We call this pattern the child cycle of alumni giving. The evidence is consistent with the child-cycle pattern. Thus, while altruism drives some giving, the hope for a reciprocal benefit also plays a role. We compute rough estimates of the proportion of giving due to selfish motives. (JEL D91, D64, I21)

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Authors

Meer, Jonathan (Stanford U)
Rosen, Harvey S. (Princeton U)

JEL Classifications

D64: Altruism
D91: Intertemporal Consumer Choice; Life Cycle Models and Saving
I21: Analysis of Education

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