Review of Behavioral Economics > Vol 7 > Issue 4

Altruism and Impatience: The Role of Time Preferences in Donation Choices

Davide Dottori, Banca d’Italia, Ancona Branch, Economic Research Unit, Italy, Caterina Giannetti, University of Pisa, Italy,
Suggested Citation
Davide Dottori and Caterina Giannetti (2020), "Altruism and Impatience: The Role of Time Preferences in Donation Choices", Review of Behavioral Economics: Vol. 7: No. 4, pp 337-377.

Publication Date: 10 Dec 2020
© 2020 D. Dottori and C. Giannetti
Behavioral Economics,  Microeconometrics
JEL Codes: C21D03D64
Two-limit Tobitgeneralized propensity scorequasi-experimentaltruismdiscounting


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In this article:
1. Introduction 
2. Data Description 
3. Model Specification 
4. Results 
5. Conclusion 
6. The Theoretical Setting 
7. Discussion and Conclusions 
A. Proofs 


Relying on a quasi-experimental setting and a sample of Italian households, we study the role of time preferences on donation choices. Specifically, we apply the generalized propensity score methodology finding that both the amount and the probability of donating (i.e., altruism) vary non-monotonically with impatience in intertemporal choice, declining at higher levels of impatience. We then provide a theoretical model whose predictions are consistent, under fairly general conditions, with these empirical findings. Consistent with previous experimental evidence, these results support the view that psychological discounting matters for altruistic behaviour.