Study indicates differences in donations between social classes in Brazil

The study, whose initial version won an award at the Society for Consumer Psychology’s conference in 2020 in California, was conducted between 2017 and May 2021, in Rio de Janeiro, which has a highly unequal socioeconomic environment. 
Administration
22 July 2021
Study indicates differences in donations between social classes in Brazil

Wealthy people are less inclined to donate to “basic” charitable causes, such as initiatives to fight hunger and homelessness, while poorer people prefer to donate to these more pressing causes. This is one of the findings of a study by Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration (FGV EBAPE), called “Social Class Shapes Donation Allocation Preferences.” The study was carried out by Yan Vieites, a PhD researcher at FGV EBAPE, in partnership with FGV EBAPE professors Eduardo Andrade and Rafael Goldszmidt.

The study, whose initial version won an award at the Society for Consumer Psychology’s conference in 2020 in California, was conducted between 2017 and May 2021, in Rio de Janeiro, which has a highly unequal socioeconomic environment. The study involved residents of the Complexo da Maré shantytown and Rio’s wealthy south side.

In one experiment, people were given five R$2 notes, amounting to R$10. They were then told they could keep the money or donate some or all of it to food banks or cultural initiatives. In all, 60% of the participants made a donation and the average amount was R$4.96.

When it came to residents of Complexo da Maré, 86% of them made a donation and the average amount was R$5.57 (R$3.74 for food banks and R$1.83 for cultural activities). On Rio’s south side, 43% of participants made a donation and the average figure was R$4.30 (R$1.28 for food banks and R$3.02 for cultural initiatives).

In this context, FGV EBAPE’s study evaluated how the relative “urgency” of causes in relation to human survival shapes the donation allocation preferences of people in higher and lower social classes. The study indicated that when faced with two options for donations, one aimed at a basic cause (a food bank or homeless shelter) and the other involving a less urgent cause (culture or sport), lower-class people prefer to donate to the former, while higher-class people tend to contribute to the latter. 

The study, “Social Class Shapes Donation Allocation Preferences,” can be found in English here.

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