Economics of Reciprocity, Gift Giving and Altruism

Marseilles, France, December 18 – 20, 1997

Programme Committee:

Jean Mercier-Ythier, France (co-chairman)
Serge Kolm, France (co-chairman)
L. A. Gérard-Varet, France (co-chairman)


The revival of public interest for private solidarities, peculiarly sensitive in developed countries for the last ten years, clearly finds its origin in the difficulties of the Welfare State in both markets economies and formerly socialist ones. This new polularity of gift-giving, never reached since World War-Two, points therefore, beside fashions, to important and long-lasting characteristics of a new way of functioning of developed economies. It is the expression, in the field of social transfers, of a widespread and apparently necessary revival of private initiative an private property.

This conference covered the whole recent economic research, both theoretical and empirical on voluntary transfers. It will present, too, some distinguished analysis from anthropology and philosophy. This comprehensive presentation of recent contributions to the study of voluntary transfers was structured around the following three topics:
– Intergenerational transfers
– Charitable gifts
– The shapes and motivations of altruistic behaviours.

The proceedings of this conference have been published in 2000 by Palgrave under the same title as the conference.