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Social image concerns and prosocial behavior: Field evidence from a nonlinear incentive scheme

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  • Lacetera, Nicola
  • Macis, Mario

Abstract

Using longitudinal data on the entire population of blood donors in an Italian town, we examine how donors respond to a nonlinear award scheme that rewards them with symbolic prizes (medals) when they reach certain donation quotas. Our results indicate that donors significantly increase the frequency of their donations immediately before reaching the thresholds for which the rewards are given, but only if the prizes are publicly announced in the local newspaper and awarded in a public ceremony. The results are robust to several specifications, sample definitions, and controls for observable and unobservable heterogeneity. Our findings indicate that social image concerns are a primary motivator of prosocial behavior and that symbolic prizes are most effective as motivators when they are awarded publicly. We discuss the implications of our findings for policies aimed at incentivizing prosocial behavior.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 76 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (November)
Pages: 225-237

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:76:y:2010:i:2:p:225-237

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

Related research

Keywords: Incentives Awards Public good provision Prosocial behavior Public health Social prestige;

References

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  12. James Andreoni & B. Douglas Bernheim, 2007. "Social Image and the 50-50 Norm: A Theoretical and Experimental Analysis of Audience Effects," Discussion Papers 07-030, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
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  14. Jen Shang & Rachel Croson, 2009. "A Field Experiment in Charitable Contribution: The Impact of Social Information on the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(540), pages 1422-1439, October.
  15. Paul Oyer, 1998. "Fiscal Year Ends And Nonlinear Incentive Contracts: The Effect On Business Seasonality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(1), pages 149-185, February.
  16. Harbaugh, William T., 1998. "What do donations buy?: A model of philanthropy based on prestige and warm glow," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 269-284, February.
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