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Blood donation and the nature of altruism

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  • Wildman, John
  • Hollingsworth, Bruce

Abstract

Approximately 10% of people have O-negative blood. Because it can be transfused into almost anyone, hospitals particularly value such blood. We use this fact, together with the assumption that blood types are exogenously assigned by nature, to design an empirical inquiry into altruism. We also investigate the timing of donations, especially focussing on the behaviour of new and established donors. We show that O-negative blood donors donate no more often than other people. Thus individuals apparently do not exhibit pure altruism. We speculate that instead blood donors may be driven by a broad notion of duty rather than by a far-sighted, rational unselfishness.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 28 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 492-503

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:28:y:2009:i:2:p:492-503

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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Keywords: Blood donation Charity Public good Altruism Latent variable;

References

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  1. Seabright, Paul, 2004. "Continuous Preferences Can Cause Discontinuous Choices: An Application to the Impact of Incentives on Altruism," CEPR Discussion Papers 4322, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Asheim, Geir B., 1991. "Unjust intergenerational allocations," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 350-371, August.
  3. Barham, Vicky & Boadway, Robin & Marchand, Maurice & Pestieau, Pierre, 1995. "Education and the poverty trap," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 1257-1275, August.
  4. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-58, December.
  5. Culyer, A. J. & Wagstaff, Adam, 1993. "Equity and equality in health and health care," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 431-457, December.
  6. Anderberg, Dan & Balestrino, Alessandro, 2001. "Self-Enforcing Intergenerational Transfers and the Provision of Education," CEPR Discussion Papers 3107, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Dickson, Eric S & Shepsle, Kenneth A, 2001. "Working and Shirking: Equilibrium in Public-Goods Games with Overlapping Generations of Players," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 285-318, October.
  8. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
  9. Warr, Peter G., 1982. "Pareto optimal redistribution and private charity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 131-138, October.
  10. Frey, Bruno S & Jegen, Reto, 2001. " Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
  11. van Dijk, Frans & van Winden, Frans, 1997. "Dynamics of social ties and local public good provision," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 323-341, June.
  12. Roberts, Russell D, 1984. "A Positive Model of Private Charity and Public Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 136-48, February.
  13. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Privately provided public goods in a large economy: The limits of altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 57-73, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Joan Costa-i-Font & Mireia Jofre-Bonet & Steven T. Yen, 2011. "Not All Incentives Wash Out the Warm Glow: The Case of Blood Donation Revisited," CESifo Working Paper Series 3527, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Juan M. Cabasés Hita & María Errea Rodríguez, 2010. "Attitudes towards blood and living organ donations," Documentos de Trabajo - Lan Gaiak Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra 1004, Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra.
  3. Ignacio Abásolo & Aki Tsuchiya, 2014. "Blood donation as a public good: an empirical investigation of the free rider problem," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 313-321, April.

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