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Gift-giving behavior: an economic perspective.

Thesia I. Garner and Janet Wagner, "Gift-Giving Behavior: An Economic Perspective," presented at the Allied Social Science Associations Annual Meetings, Society of Government Economists, Chicago, IL, December 28-30, 1987.

The giving of gifts is a way of conferring material benefits on a recipient. Thus, whether a gift is given is in part an economic decision. Previous research has focused on various dimensions of gift giving: however, studies dealing from an economic perspective have not been fully developed.

The purpose of this paper is to explore the economic dimensions of gift giving. Engel curve analysis is used to study the socioeconomic and demographic determinants of household (consumer unit) expenditures for gifts given to individuals, households, and organizations outside the consuming unit. Total expenditures for gifts and expenditures for a selected product category, infants' clothing, are analyzed. The factors hypothesized to influence gift expenditures include the total expenditures or income of the household, family size,stage in the family life cycle, ethnicity, region and degree of urbanization of residence, education of the reference person, and employment status of the spouse. Data are from the quarterly Interview component of the Consumer Expenditure Survey for 1984 and 1985. Only consumer units who report their expenditures for 12 consecutive months are included in the sample.

The results suggest that gifts, when evaluated as a total group, are luxuries for the household. The probability of gift giving and expenditures for total gifts are affected by socioeconomic and demographic variables including family size, stage in the family life cycle, ethnicity and education of the reference person, and degree of urbanization. Increases in family size are associated with a lower probability of gift giving outside the consumer unit. Results indicate that consumer units with "mature" or "older" reference persons are more likely to give gifts in general, while younger and mature parent consumer units are most likely to give gifts of infants' clothing. Consumer units of Anglo-Saxon ethnic origin are more likely to give gifts in general while Afro-Americans are less likely to have purchases for gifts of infants' clothing. Higher education is associated with a greater probability of gift giving when considered for total gifts, while higher education is negatively associated with the probability that the consumer unit will purchase gifts of infants' clothing. Consumer units living in cities or rural areas are less likely than those living in suburban areas to have gift expenditures. Information obtained from this research can be used to extend previously developed models of giftgiving to include economic concepts.
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Title Annotation:Consumer Expenditure Survey Conference paper summaries
Author:Garner, Thesia I.; Wagner, Janet
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Aug 1, 1988
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