Charitable donations by the self-employed

Matthias A. Tietz*, Simon C. Parker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)899-916
Number of pages18
JournalSmall Business Economics
Issue number4
Early online date30 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11187-014-9580-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


  • Charitable giving
  • Donation
  • Self-employed
  • Social identity theory


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