nep-sog New Economics Papers
on Sociology of Economics
Issue of 2008‒12‒01
one paper chosen by
Jonas Holmström
Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration

  1. The Impact of Athletic Performance on Alumni Giving: An Analysis of Micro Data By Jonathan Meer; Harvey S. Rosen

  1. By: Jonathan Meer (Stanford University); Harvey S. Rosen (Princeton University)
    Abstract: An ongoing controversy in the literature on the economics of higher education centers on whether the success of a school’s athletic program affects alumni donations. This paper uses a unique data set to investigate this issue. The data contain detailed information about donations made by alumni of a selective research university as well as a variety of their economic and de-mographic characteristics. One important question is how to characterize the success of an athlet-ic program. We focus not only on the performance of the most visible teams, football and bas-ketball, but also on the success of the team on which he or she played as an undergraduate. One of our key findings is that the impact of athletic success on donations differs for men and women. When a male graduate’s former team wins its conference championship, his dona-tions for general purposes increase by about 7 percent and his donations to the athletic program increase by about the same percentage. Football and basketball records generally have small and statistically insignificant effects; in some specifications, a winning basketball season reduces do-nations. For women there is no statistically discernible effect of a former team’s success on cur-rent giving; as is the case for men, the impacts of football and basketball, while statistically sig-nificant in some specifications, are not important in magnitude. Another novel result is that for males, varsity athletes whose teams were successful when they were undergraduates subsequent-ly make larger donations to the athletic program. For example, if a male alumnus’s team won its conference championship during his senior year, his subsequent giving to the athletic program is about 8 percent a year higher, ceteris paribus.
    Date: 2008–03

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