Professor Ottoni-Wilhelm's research interests are in the economics of prosocial behavior. He has published articles about altruistic motivation to give money to charity, the intergenerational transmission of generosity, generational change in giving, empathic concern and moral principles as correlates of prosocial behavior, and the relationship between religious affiliation and giving to organizations that help people in need. His current research projects are about measuring altruistic motivation in experiments, taxes and giving, and giving in response to disasters. He was the Founding Director of the Philanthropy Panel Study, the generosity module in the United States’ Panel Study of Income Dynamics. He has also led the design of generosity modules that were included in the American National Election Study 2008-2009 Panel, the National Study of American Jewish Giving, and the National Study of American Religious Giving. Professor Ottoni-Wilhelm joined the IUPUI Economics Department in 1998. From 1990-1998 he was Assistant Professor of Economics at The Pennsylvania State University. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from New York University in 1990.

Academic interests

The economics of pro-social behavior.


Applied econometrics, statistics


  • Eileen Lamb O’Gara Chair in Women’s Philanthropy (Visiting), Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, 2014-2015
  • Visiting Research Scholar, Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, 2000-2002.
  • Dean’s Dissertation Fellow, New York University, 1988-89.
  • Helbein Scholar, New York University, 1986-87.
  • President's Fellow, The University of Michigan, 1979-80.
  • Royal Society of Arts Silver Medal, The Johns Hopkins University, 1979.


“Why Do People Give? Testing Pure and Impure Altruism.” (forthcoming). American Economic Review (with Lise Vesterlund and Huan Xie). “Altruism and Egoism/Warm Glow in Economics and Psychology: Building a Bridge Between Different Experimental Approaches.” (2017). In Costa-i-Font, Joan and Macis, Mario (eds.), Social Economics: Current and Emerging Avenues. MIT Press, Cambridge: 79-108. “Raising Charitable Children: The Effects of Verbal Socialization and Role modeling on Children’s Giving.” (2016). Journal of Population Economics 30(1), 189-224 (with Ye Zhang, David Estell and Neil Perdue). “Principle of Care and Giving to Help People in Need.” (2016). European Journal of Personality 30(3): 240-257 (with René Bekkers).


Founding Director, The Philanthropy Panel Study.

President, the Association for the Study of the Grants Economy.

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