Thursday, July 21, 2022

Economics of Charity at ANU

Professor John List, Head of the ANU John Mitchell Economics of Poverty Lab, is speaking on "The Economics of Charity" in Canberra, at the ANU College of Business and Economics. I am watching on-line. He is author of "The Voltage Effect: How to Make Good Ideas Great and Great Ideas Scale" (2022). 

Professor List related how in his early work he conducted experiments into getting donations for a university. He found that private donations in advance to a pubic call increases donations, as a quality signal. Taking an extreme example, mentioning there had already been a donation from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation greatly increased subsequent donations. However, traditional economic models on price effects don't work. In particular, different matching ratios (from 1:1 to 1:3) doesn't make a difference.

Another interesting point is that marketing gifts, only tend to work once. Men are more price sensitive than women.

Interestingly Professor List discussed the use of AI, both for experiment, and in practice. 

Overall an interesting talk, but I had some difficulty with the US outlook, terminology, and jargon. At times I had difficulty working out what were US colloquialisms, and what were technical terms from the field.

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