Cover of EconPol Working Paper 64

Calamities, Common Interests, Shared Identity: What Shapes Altruism and Reciprocity?

Cevat Giray Aksoy (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, King's College London and IZA), Antonio Cabrales (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid), Mathias Dolls (ifo Institute, CESifo, IZA and ZEW), Ruben Durante (ICREA, UPF, IPEG, Barcelona School of Economics, and CEPR), Lisa Windsteiger (Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance

Information on the Covid-19 pandemic increases altruistic behavior and reciprocity towards compatriots, citizens of other EU countries, and non-EU citizens. This is one key result of a large-scale survey experiment conducted in August 2020 by EconPol Europe network members in nine European countries. The study also finds that priming common European values boosts altruism and reciprocity, but only towards compatriots and fellow Europeans. In contrast, priming common economic interests (EU trade) has no tangible impact on behaviour. The survey experiment provides novel evidence on how trust, reciprocity, and altruism are affected by a major health crisis (Covid-19), common economic interests (EU trade) and shared values (EU ideals).

Abstract

We conduct a large-scale survey experiment in nine European countries to study how priming a major crisis (COVID-19), common economic interests, and a shared identity influences altruism, reciprocity and trust of EU citizens. We find that priming the COVID-19 pandemic increases altruism and reciprocity towards compatriots, citizens of other EU countries, and non-EU citizens. Priming common European values also boosts altruism and reciprocity but only towards compatriots and fellow Europeans.Priming common economic interests has no tangible impact on behaviour. Trust in others is not affected by any treatment. Our results are consistent with the parochial altruism hypothesis, which asserts that because altruism arises out of inter-group conflict, humans show a tendency to favor members of their own groups.

Citation

Cevat Giray Aksoy, Antonio Cabrales, Mathias Dolls, Ruben Durante, Lisa Windsteiger: "Calamities, Common Interests, Shared Identity: What Shapes Altruism and Reciprocity?", EconPol Working Paper 64, May 2021