An experiment revealed that men are more charitable than women.
Over the years, there has been a constant debate on which gender is more generous. Recently, scholars at the University of Chicago and the University of California, Berkeley, have conducted a field experiment aiming to address the issue. The researchers have found out that, given the chance to opt out of a request to give a charitable donation, women are less likely to give than men.
The study, led by John List, an economist from the University of Chicago and an expert philanthropist, tested primarily the motivations of people to give, that is, whether they responded to social pressure or from an attitude of altruism. The researchers visited neighborhoods to raise money for a local children's hospital and an out-of-state environmental organization. Visits were unannounced in one part of the study, whereas in two other parts of the study, people received fliers either announcing the solicitation the next day or giving an opportunity to opt out of the request for funds.
The group of economists found out that the flier lowers the share of people answering the door, relative to the people who were uninformed of the visit, but it does not affect the share of people giving. The opt-out option, on the other hand, lowers both the share of people answering the door and the share of individuals giving, with women contributing mostly to this change. The experiment also revealed that approximately 3 percent of women and men gave money when the visit was unannounced. When allowed to opt out, however, men's giving dropped slightly, whereas women's giving fell to about half of the level of the previous giving.
The research considered the possibility that women could be more sensitive to social cues than men, thus are more likely to provide donations when they are asked face-to-face. List and his colleagues also took into account the impact of people's apprehension, particularly among women, to responding to door-to-door solicitations. Therefore, they concluded that, if security were a particularly strong concern among women, the gender differences would have appeared among the people who were contacted unannounced.
The results of the study are published in the May issue of the American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings.