Altruistic behavior and soccer: the effect of incidental happiness on charitable giving

Frank Hubers*, Dinand Webbink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study investigates the impact of incidental happiness associated with the outcome of the Dutch national soccer championship on charitable giving shortly after the decisive match. We use survey data in which participants were asked to make an anonymous donation of an earned endowment. For estimating the causal effect of happiness on charitable giving, we exploit the variation in the emotions of fans between and within teams using two complementary empirical approaches. The first approach is based on the preference of fans for local teams. We find that individuals living closer to the city of the new champions (Amsterdam) are happier and also more likely to donate to charity than individuals living further away. Importantly, distance to Amsterdam does not affect charitable giving in a placebo sample of individuals with no interest in soccer. The second approach exploits variation between different types of fans within teams. Allegiant fans, individuals who attended a match, are happier and more likely to donate to charity than “stay-at-home” fans when their team wins the title. Allegiant fans are less happy and less likely to donate than stay-at-home fans when their team does not win the title. Instrumental variable estimates suggest a large effect of incidental happiness on charitable giving.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-154
Number of pages28
JournalScandinavian Journal of Economics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

We thank Sacha Kapoor, Matthijs Oosterveen, Robert Dur, Josse Delfgaauw, James Andreoni, Daniel Houser, and seminar participants for helpful comments and discussions. We thank Sem Kippers for coordination and assistance in the data collection.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. The Scandinavian Journal of Economics published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Föreningen för utgivande av the SJE.


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