Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Julio Garin

Rights Information

© 2022 Nicolas RJ De Mello


I examine how recessions and the business cycle impact the time individuals allocate to altruism, using American Time Use Survey data from 2002-2019. The aim of the paper was to create a measure of altruism to explore changes in attitudes towards charity and altruism instead of the financial ability to do so. Additionally, I want to understand how economic shocks, such as recessions, impact behaviors and habits across the US population. Using ordinary least squares and the Tobit model, I created two models to capture both changes during and after recessionary periods. The first model is a regression of individuals’ time allocated to altruistic actions on recessions, controlling for sex, employment, and race. I find that individuals do not spend significantly different amounts of time acting altruistically during recessionary periods. In the second model, I focus on how time spent acting altruistically differed in the years prior to and after 2008 compared to the year 2008. I find evidence that the 2008 recession corresponded to a decrease in altruistic activities up until 2019. The main implication of my results is that there is no necessary public policy action required regarding altruistic behavior during recessions. However, in the years after recessions, governments may need to introduce additional incentives for individuals to allocate more time toward altruism.