Does Publicizing a Tax Credit for Political Contributions Increase Its Use?:Results From a Randomized Field Experiment
AbstractWe present the results of an experiment using nonpartisan, informational direct mail—of the sort that a public relations–conscious government agency might use—to encourage Ohio voters to contribute money to political candidates. Ohio provides full tax credits of up to $50 to citizens who make contributions to state candidates. We found that the mailing produced a modest and marginally significant increase in the number of citizens who filed for the tax credit. This is consistent with earlier survey research findings by two of the authors suggesting that increased knowledge of the tax credit would be likely to increase its use. The experiment suggests that direct mail campaigns might not be the most cost-effective means for encouraging increased contributions. However, even a modest increase in participation could have important effects, given the small size of the current donor pool.