In this thesis, I present research in the fields of economics and history. I address both the current issue of non-profit hospital behavior surrounding charitable donations, and provide a recent historical perspective of the structure of hospital community benefits that has resulted from the regulatory environment the United States enacted in response to the shifting social paradigms of American healthcare. It is generally understood that non-profit hospitals provide a broad level of community benefits not received from for-profit hospitals. Further, altruistic donations to non-profit hospitals are considered necessary so they can provide charity care for the community’s most needy. This study attempts to investigate the destruction of traditional non-profit hospital tendencies, away from a purely charitable service, and towards one that is operated with profit seeking tendencies. I hypothesize that non-profit hospitals with a greater level of oversight by altruistic donors will spend less on expenditures that produce no value for the institution. I test this hypothesis empirically using a regression model that employs data of 20 hospitals spanning the fiscal years 2008 through 2012. The result of my analysis provides significant evidence in support of my economic hypothesis. Along with my historical argument, my study provides additional understanding of the way non- profit hospitals are run. This thesis is not meant as a policy suggestion, though it continues to add to the limited literature surrounding charitable donations in the non-profit healthcare sector.


Burnell, Barbara

Second Advisor

Biro Walters, Jordan


Economics; History


Health Economics | History of Science, Technology, and Medicine


Hospital, Nonprofit, philanthropy

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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