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SEGUNDO SEMESTRE DE 2006, PP 245-260. .


Altruism with Social Roots: An Emerging Literature El origen social del altruismo: una literatura emergente
Pablo Brañas–Garza ** María Paz Espinosa ***

This paper analyzes the emerging literature on the determinants of giving within a social network. We propose two main explanatory variables for previousexperimental results on the friendship effect. The first is social integration, which has a positive impact on giving. The second variable is strategic and is based on reciprocity: the possibility of ex-post favors. Econometric analysis shows that both variables play a positive (and significant) role. Key words: giving, social networks, reciprocity, social integration. JEL Classification: C91, D64, Z13.* María Paz Espinosa acknowledges financial aid from UPV and DGCYT (BEC2003- 02084 y SEJ 2006-06309 ECON); Pablo Brañas-Garza from DGCYT (SEJ2004-07554/ECON) and GV (GV06/275). We are indebted to two anonymous referees for their comments and suggestions.

** Professor of the Department of Economics and Economic History, Granada University, Campus de la Cartuja s/n, 18071 Granada, Spain. Email:pbg@ugr.es ***Professor of the Department of Economics, University of the Basque Country, Lehendakari Aguirre 83, 48015 Bilbao, Spain. Email: mariapaz.espinosa@bs.ehu.es This paper was received April 24, 2006, modified November 13, 2006 and accepted December 13, 2006.


Altruism with Social Roots: An Emerging Literature
Pablo Brañas–Garza y María Paz Espinosa

En esteartículo se analiza la literatura reciente sobre los determinantes del altruismo en el marco de una red social. Se proponen dos variables explicativas para racionalizar resultados experimentales relativos al denominado efecto amistad. La primera de ellas es la integración social, que tiene un impacto positivo sobre la generosidad. La segunda variable es estratégica y está basada en la reciprocidad: laposibilidad de recibir favores ex.post. El análisis econométrico que realizamos muestra que las dos variables tienen un efecto positivo y significativo. Palabras clave: donaciones, redes sociales, reciprocidad, integración social. Clasificación JEL: C91, D64, Z13.

The role of socialization in altruistic behavior is a growing topic in experimental literature. Seminal papers in thisfield (Hoffman et al., 1996 and Hoffman et al., 1994 or Bohnet and Frey, 1999) explore the effect of “social distance” on giving, i.e. how the subjects’ perception of the recipient as close or distant, in moral terms, affects the outcome; the result is that proximity plays a crucial role in explaining generosity. Although the first papers on this issue interpreted this social aspect as a matter offraming, a number of subsequent papers have dealt with pure social issues focussing on the attributes of recipients. This literature started with Eckel and Grossman (1996), who analyzed how individuals behave when the recipient is a well–known and reputed institution: the Red Cross. This line of research regarding the recipient’s identity continued with Burham (2003), who endow dictators withpictures of the recipients, Charness and Gneezy1, who give recipients’ names to proposers, and Brañas-Garza (2006), who inform


Charness and Gneezy (forthcoming). “What’s in a name? Anonymity and social distance in dictator and ultimatum games”, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.


SEGUNDO SEMESTRE DE 2006, PP 245-260. .


dictators aboutrecipients’ poverty levels. The research dealing with social framing includes also Frohlich et al. (2001) who analyzes how the presence of recipients (in front of dictators) increases the credibility of the experiment and social proximity and, thus, giving. As shown in Hoffman et al. (1996) proximity between the participants and the experimenter and between subjects is a key variable in explaining...
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