IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Blood donation and the nature of altruism

  • Wildman, John
  • Hollingsworth, Bruce

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

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

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

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:28:y:2009:i:2:p:492-503
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  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. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Dan Anderberg & Alessandro Balestrino, 2003. "Self--enforcing Intergenerational Transfers and the Provision of Education," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 70(277), pages 55-71, February.
  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. Asheim, G.B., 1989. "Unjust Intergenerational Allocations," Papers 09-89, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration-.
  9. 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.
  10. Frey, Bruno S & Jegen, Reto, 2001. " Motivation Crowding Theory," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(5), pages 589-611, December.
  11. Warr, Peter G., 1982. "Pareto optimal redistribution and private charity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 131-138, October.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:28:y:2009:i:2:p:492-503. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.