Date of Graduation

Fall 12-16-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in International and Development Economics (MSIDEC)


College of Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Bruce Wydick


Different cultures have their own set of norms and values that not only shape people’s motives but also influences their decision making. What may be viewed as logical and ethical in one culture, may be seen as illogical or unethical in another. One area that is consistently affected by cross-cultural differences in motives is charitable giving. Recently, there has been an increase in interest around effective altruism— a social movement and philosophy that argues, people should give to charities that do the most good. Prior research that has found that people do not give based on efficiency; instead, people give based on subjective preferences. Using OLS models and a utility maximizing structural model, this paper provides insights that help us understand the trade-offs people make between effectiveness and meaningfulness when they donate. Further, this paper shows that salient characteristic matches between a donor and a recipient, such as matches on nationality and suffering from a familiar affliction, increase donation amounts. This research has the potential to both inform highly effective charities on how to better target different cultures as well as advance our theoretical understanding on giving motives by shedding light on how culture impacts the development and acquisition of these disparate motives.