Who gives to international charity : a profile of individual donors in the USA.
Erickson, Anna Ruth.
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A small proportion of American charitable donors give to international causes. Aid to developing countries constitutes a large part of this charitable sector. By studying donors who make contributions to causes outside the US, we may better understand the factors which shape public concern for global poverty and inequality, and which influence the will for redistribution. While a substantial amount of research has investigated the determinants of overall giving in the US, little is known about the determinants of giving to specific causes, especially international causes. With the data set, “Giving and Volunteering in the United States 2001,” this study uses econometric regression analysis to estimate the predictors of giving to international causes and compares them to the determinants of giving to other causes such as health, education and the arts. My main hypothesis is that educational and religious institutions influence people to identify with and donate to individuals and causes in the developing world. This is based on the theory in altruism studies that people behave prosocially when they identify others’ interests as indistinct from their own. The results of econometric analysis support the idea that education and religiosity are significant predictors of giving to international causes, but suggest that other mechanisms are more influential. Of the predictors included in the regression model, youth volunteering has the largest effect on the likelihood that someone gives internationally, both compared to other predictors in the model, and compared to the effect of youth volunteering on giving to other causes. The size and significance of the effect of each variable vary by cause, confirming that there are unique determinants for giving to different charitable sectors. For giving to international causes, the results suggest that being foreign born, having volunteered in one’s youth, belonging to a non-religious group, attending religious services frequently and having a four-year college degree or more are all significant factors. These variables may represent mechanisms for identification, as well as other factors that motivate charitable giving such as individual personality characteristics.