Research Archive

Individual Preferences for Giving

Raymond Fisman, Shachar Kariv, Daniel Markovits

Publication type: Working paper

Research Archive Topic: Business Economics and Public Policy, Capital Markets and Investments, Corporate Finance


This paper reports an experimental test of individual preferences for giving. We use graphical representations of modified Dictator Games that vary the price of giving. This generates a very rich data set wellsuited to studying behavior at the level of the individual subject. We test the data for consistency with preference maximization, and we recover underlying preferences and forecast behavior using both nonparametric and parametric methods. Our results emphasize that classical demand theory can account very well for behaviors observed in the laboratory and that individual preferences for giving are highly heterogeneous, ranging from utilitarian to Rawlsian to perfectly selfish.
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Fisman, Raymond, Shachar Kariv, and Daniel Markovits. "Individual Preferences for Giving." Columbia Business School, February 2005.

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