Social Incentives in Contributions: Field Experiment Evidence from the 2012 U.S. Presidential Campaigns

This paper exploits the unique institutional setting of U.S. campaign finance to provide new evidence on social incentives for political participation. We conducted a field experiment in which letters with individualized information about campaign contributions were sent to 91,998 contributors in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. The effect of those letters on recipients’ subsequent contributions is examined using administrative data. We find that exogenously making an individual’s contributions more visible to her neighbors significantly increased her subsequent contributions if the majority of her neighbors support her same party, but decreased her contribution if the majority of her neighbors support the opposite party. This constitutes evidence that individuals give preferential treatment to neighbors of the same party. In another treatment arm, we randomized the information observed by recipients about neighbors’ contribution behavior. Consistent with existing evidence on social norms, individuals contribute more when neighbors of the same party contribute higher average amounts. Furthermore, we find that the individuals also care about the total amounts raised by the same and opposite parties. These findings result in implications for fundraising strategies, the design of optimal disclosure policies and the understanding of geographic polarization.


Ricardo Perez Truglia and Guillermo Cruces. Partisan Interactions: Evidence from a Field Experiment in the United States. Journal of Political Economy. Forthcoming

Ricardo Perez Truglia and Guillermo Cruces (2014) Social Science Research Network

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