Catherine Eckel (Texas A&M)

Friday, September 9, 2022 - 3:40 pm to 5:00 pm
Event Type: 

Description: Labor-Public Economics Workshop: Catherine Eckel (Texas A&M)

Location: Virtual

Contact Person: John Winters 

Title: The Evolution of Preferences and Charitable Giving: A panel of the university years


Economic preferences are often taken as given, yet evidence shows that preferences change over time and in response to life events.  We examine the evolution of other-regarding preferences for a cohort of university students over five years, starting before they matriculate and extending one year beyond graduation.  Using survey and incentivized measures of preferences, we show that altruism declines over the university years.  This decline is reflected in changes in charitable giving, over three donation opportunities.  We rule out several alternative explanations for the observed change, including cohort differences and experience with experiments. We show evidence of a “giving type” in charitable giving, with considerable consistency in behavior across giving opportunities. Methodologically, we also show that the incentivized measure is stronger than the survey measure at predicting giving types.  We conclude that preferences reflect common tendencies over time, while simultaneously showing an overall decline in generosity during the university years.