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  • Academic publication
  • 1st Feb 2016

Can simple prompts increase bequest giving? Field evidence from a legal call centre


We report the findings of a field study demonstrating the importance of non-pecuniary mechanisms for bequest giving. We show that a prompt to leave money to charity that includes social/emotional factors made during the will-making process increases by 50 per cent the proportion of wills that include a charitable bequest. In terms of magnitude, we show that this is one-third of the effect of a 40% estates tax at the threshold. We find little response to either prompts or tax-price changes among people with children indicating that, for many, leaving money to their children appears to preclude leaving money to charity.


Michael Sanders

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Sarah Smith