The Surprising Similarity Between Charitable and Political Giving

Research shows that when somebody donates to a candidate they are likely to reduce their contributions to charities

“Political contributions and charitable giving may satisfy the same psychological needs,” says Wharton’s Pinar Yildirim.

Photo: Al drago/Reuters

香蕉视频苹果下载Why do people donate money to political campaigns? This question has vexed many scholars, especially because donations are often small and unlikely to affect the outcome of a race or curry influence with politicians.

A from the National Bureau of Economic Research has a possible answer: The paper’s findings suggest that the main motivation for political giving is the same as it is for charitable giving—the donor is driven by his or her desire for the positive feeling that comes from doing something good.

The researchers noticed that the two kinds of giving often act like substitutes. When someone gives more to a political campaign, in other words, they are likely to give less to charity. The converse was also found to be true.

香蕉视频苹果下载“Political contributions and charitable giving may satisfy the same psychological needs,” says Pinar Yildirim, assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton business school and co-author of the study.Maria Petrova, Ricardo Perez-Truglia and Andrei Simonov are the study’s other authors.

To test whether charitable and political giving are interchangeable, the paper looked at contributions to the American Red Cross after a foreign natural disaster. The authors chose to focus on foreign catastrophes because they generate a lot of press coverage, which encourages people to donate, and, unlike domestic natural disasters, have little effect on Americans’ financial ability to donate.

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