Donative Behavior at the End of Life

22 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2013 Last revised: 25 Apr 2021

See all articles by Jonathan Meer

Jonathan Meer

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics

Harvey S. Rosen

Princeton University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: June 2013

Abstract

A general finding in the empirical literature on charitable giving is that among older individuals, both the probability of giving and the conditional amount of donations decrease with age, ceteris paribus. In this paper, we use data on giving by alumni at an anonymous university to investigate end-of-life giving patterns. Our main finding is that taking into account the approach of death substantially changes the age-giving profile for the elderly-in one segment of the age distribution, the independent effect of an increase in age on giving actually changes from negative to positive. We examine how the decline in giving as death approaches varies with the length of time that a given condition is likely to bring about death, and the individual's age when he died. We find that for individuals who died from conditions that bring about death fairly quickly, there is little decline in giving as death approaches compared to those who died from other causes. Further, the decline in giving as death approaches is steeper for the elderly (for whom death is less likely to be a surprise) than for the relatively young. These findings suggest that our primary result, that failing to take into account the approach of death leads to biased inferences with respect to the age-giving profile, is not merely an artifact of some kind of nonlinearity in the relationship between age and giving.

Suggested Citation

Meer, Jonathan and Rosen, Harvey S., Donative Behavior at the End of Life (June 2013). NBER Working Paper No. w19145, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2282985

Jonathan Meer (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University - Department of Economics ( email )

5201 University Blvd.
College Station, TX 77843-4228
United States

Harvey S. Rosen

Princeton University - Department of Economics ( email )

001 Fisher Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
8
Abstract Views
200
PlumX Metrics