Small Business Economics

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 899–916 | Cite as

Charitable donations by the self-employed

  • Matthias A. Tietz
  • Simon C. Parker


This article analyzes an important aspect of the social behavior of the self-employed in America. We ask whether the self-employed express their social responsibility to society by giving more to charity than the general population, and if so which charitable causes they give to. We use social identity theory to generate hypotheses about the determinants and objectives of charitable giving among members of this socially and economically important group. Testing these hypotheses with nationally representative, longitudinal US data, we find that the American self-employed are indeed more likely to exhibit social responsibility toward their community by giving to charities than the general population. While the self-employed support broadly similar charities to the general population, they give substantially more to organizations which: address issues in the local community; provide health care; and serve the needy. We trace out implications of our findings for scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers.


Charitable giving Donation Self-employed Social identity theory 

JEL classifications

D190 L26 L260 M140 

Supplementary material

11187_2014_9580_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (30 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 29 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IE Business SchoolMadridSpain
  2. 2.Ivey Business SchoolWestern UniversityLondonCanada

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