Research in Higher Education

, Volume 54, Issue 5, pp 499–513 | Cite as

Giving Till it Helps? Alumnae Giving and Children’s College Options

  • Kristin F. Butcher
  • Caitlin Kearns
  • Patrick J. McEwan


This paper examines whether donations to colleges and universities are partly motivated by the desire of alumni to increase their children’s admissions probabilities. The paper uses data from a single-sex college, so that only alums with a daughter would evince this motive. We find that alums with a teenage daughter, as opposed to a teenage son, are more likely to make donations of at least $5,000. The same relationship is not evident for smaller donations, or when children are older than 18. Further, we find evidence that this difference in the probability of a donation by alums with teenage daughters and teenage sons does not exist when acceptance rates are higher in an earlier period.


Alumni giving Selective admissions Altruism Women’s college 



We are grateful to Cameran Mason and Jennifer Desjarlais for helpful discussions about resources and admissions at private colleges. We thank seminar participants at Williams College and Wellesley College for their constructive comments on early drafts of this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristin F. Butcher
    • 1
    • 2
  • Caitlin Kearns
    • 3
  • Patrick J. McEwan
    • 4
  1. 1.Wellesley CollegeWellesleyUSA
  2. 2.National Bureau of Economic ResearchCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Federal Reserve Bank of ChicagoCambridgeUSA
  4. 4.Department of EconomicsWellesley CollegeWellesleyUSA

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