SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 664
We develop a simple model of generous behavior. It is based on the premise that some people are generous, but everyone wants to appear generous. Although non-monetary donations are always inefficient, our model predicts donors to favor non-monetary donations when the inefficiency is relatively small and when the recipient is sufficiently rich. The model helps to explain the prevalence of volunteering, the nature of Christmas gifts, and the taboo against paying cash in return for friendly favors. The model also explains why it is socially more acceptable to ask for favors than for money.