Seth Werfel

Department of Political Science

The politics of private contributions to public goods


Americans donate more money to charity than citizens of any other country. Many of these charities aim to solve problems that could be simultaneously addressed by the government, such as hunger or homelessness. This project explores whether these “private contributions” influence public opinion about the role of government in society. Specifically, does charitable giving make voters more or less likely to support government intervention? My research suggests that private contributions can reduce the support for government action when they create the perception of sufficient progress toward achieving a particular goal.