What Makes People Give?


New York Times, March 09, 2008


Not long after the 2004 presidential election, John List and Dean Karlan formed an unusual partnership, with the idea of teaching a little-known liberal group how to raise more money. Karlan, an economics professor at Yale who spent much of his time studying global poverty, was himself a liberal and disheartened by President Bush’s re-election. He had given money to this particular group in the past.

List, however, was a political iconoclast who, if anything, tilted to the right. He taught economics at the University of Chicago, which can fairly be described as the center of conservative economic philosophy, and he had recently finished a stint as the environmental expert on President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers. When he and I were talking on the phone last month, he referred to Karlan, who is a friend of his, as “a left-wing nut” and then let out a laugh.

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