Policy Seminars

Ray Fisman
Columbia University

Topic: Reputation, altruism, and the benefits of seller charity
in an online marketplace

Date/Place/Time: Friday, April 2, 2010 at 1:30PM-3:00PM
UCLA Anderson Cornell Hall D313

We analyze “natural experiments” on eBay where sellers offer identical products with and without charity donations. Charity-tied products are more likely to sell and attract higher prices, and these benefits accrue primarily to sellers without extensive eBay histories. This suggests that consumers view charity as a signal of seller quality and a substitute for reputation. We also find that charity-tied products by all sellers are more likely to sell (and at higher prices) immediately following Hurricane Katrina, implying that consumers derive direct utility from seller charity at times when charity is particularly salient.

Link to paper (if available): Click here for paper