The Price of Virtue


The Price of Virtue

The Economic Value of the Charitable Sector

9781840644852 Edward Elgar Publishing
Vivien Foster, Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, Susana Mourato, London School of Economics, the late David Pearce, formerly Emeritus Professor of Economics, University College London, UK and Ece Özdemiroglu, Director, Economics for the Environment Consultancy Ltd (EFTEC), London, UK
Publication Date: 2001 ISBN: 978 1 84064 485 2 Extent: 256 pp
The authors of this pioneering book attempt to address this problem by utilizing survey techniques, originally developed in environmental economics, to place an economic value on the benefits provided by the voluntary sector in the UK.

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It is well known that the voluntary sector in modern society is large in terms of economic activity – but how large? The authors of this pioneering book attempt to address this problem by utilizing survey techniques, originally developed in environmental economics, to place an economic value on the benefits provided by the voluntary sector in the UK.

The authors comprehensively detail the analytical foundations of their survey methodology, a stated preference approach, and the results which were achieved. The economic value of the voluntary sector is elicited by discovering the general public’s willingness to pay, to maintain charitable services that are at a hypothetical risk of closure. This willingness to pay is shown to be an important element of the economic value of the voluntary sector. The authors move on to investigate the benefits provided by the charitable sector in general and by housing and homelessness charities in particular.

The book considers how, if people are willing to pay more for charities than they actually do, this economic surplus can be captured and turned into flows of income for the charities themselves. Fiscal incentives, the efficacy of various fund-raising methods and the benefits of population targeting are all examined as a means to this end. The book also discusses whether the value of charities can be defined in a wider context in terms of social capital.

This highly innovative book will be of great interest to social economists, social scientists and all organizations working within and connected to the voluntary sector.
Critical Acclaim
‘The authors have taken a novel approach for which they must be applauded. . . I recommend this book as a bold and excellent attempt at capturing the elusive "price on virtue."’
– Femida Handy, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly

‘I recommend this book to those who are interested in the importance of the charitable sector . . . Anyone who wants to examine the economic impact of the charitable sector needs to be aware of the analytical and empirical tools used in the research presented in this book.’
– John Lunn, Journal of Markets & Morality

‘The Price of Virtue is one of those rare contributions that is genuinely path-breaking. Whether one agrees or not with the authors’ work, no-one interested in the economic value of the charitable sector can afford to ignore this study, which is the first attempt to improve upon rudimentary valuations of the sector in terms of its income. Overall, a marvellously provocative work that will influence the research agenda for years to come.’
– Peter Halfpenny, University of Manchester, UK

‘This book is an important contribution to the current debate about the role of the charitable sector. For example, is it impossible for the state to return a sizeable proportion of present welfare services to charities? Year by year the charitable sector has proceeded without an acceptable theory of its economic base. The Price of Virtue is the first serious contribution towards such a theory and for this I’m most grateful to the authors.’
– Michael Brophy, Charities Aid Foundation, UK

‘Economists have only recently begun to look at charities and voluntary associations in a serious way. This book is an important milestone for showing how much charity adds to our economy, and how much good economics can add to charity.’
– Helmut Anheier, London School of Economics, UK

‘The authors display considerable ingenuity in adapting techniques for measuring "willingness-to-pay" and "willingness-to-accept" even in apparently intractable cases like that of the homeless. This book is essential reading for those working in the charitable sector, for those researching it and for relevant government departments.’
– David Collard, University of Bath, UK

‘Here, for the first time, the output or social value of the voluntary sector is measured based on insights from environmental economics, in particular willingness to pay. The authors are able to get startling and fascinating results of great importance for social policy.’
– Bruno S. Frey, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Contents: Preface Part I: Measuring the Economic Value of the Charitable Sector 1. Conceptual Foundations 2. The Benefits of Charities to the General Public 3. The Benefits of Charities to Users: The Homeless 4. The Benefits of Volunteering 5. The Aggregate Benefits of the Charitable Sector: Summary Part II: Capturing the Economic Value of Charities 6. Providing Fiscal Incentives for Giving 7. Choosing Fundraising Methods 8. Targeting Donors Part III: Policy and Social Capital 9. On Social Capital 10. Conclusions and Policy Implications References Index
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