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Blood donations and incentives : evidence from a field experiment


  • Goette, Lorenz
  • Stutzer, Alois

    () (University of Basel)


There is a longstanding concern that material incentives might undermine prosocial motivation, leading to a decrease in blood donations rather than an increase. This paper provides an empirical test of how material incentives affect blood donations in a large-scale field experiment spanning three months and involving more than 10,000 previous donors. We examine two types of incentive: a lottery ticket and a free cholesterol test. Lottery tickets significantly increase donations, in particular among less motivated donors. The cholesterol test leads to no discernable impact on usable blood donations. If anything, it creates a small negative selection effect in terms of donations that must be discarded.

Suggested Citation

  • Goette, Lorenz & Stutzer, Alois, 2008. "Blood donations and incentives : evidence from a field experiment," Working papers 2008/05, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
  • Handle: RePEc:bsl:wpaper:2008/05

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carol Ernst & Michael Gerfin & Robert E. Leu, 2000. "Inequality Trends in the Swiss Income Distribution," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 136(III), pages 289-305, September.
    2. Patrick A. Puhani, 2003. "Relative Demand Shocks and Relative Wage Rigidities During the Rise and Fall of Swiss Unemployment," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(4), pages 541-562, November.
    3. Patrick A. Puhani, 2005. "Relative Supply and Demand for Skills in Switzerland," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 141(IV), pages 555-584, December.
    4. Enrico Bolzani & Ramses H. Abul Naga, 2002. "La Distribution des Salaires en Suisse: Quelques Observations sur la Récession des Années 90," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 138(II), pages 115-136, June.
    5. Daniel Lampart & Andres Frick, 2005. "Wirtschaftliche Auswirkungen von Lohnerhoehungen in der Detailhandelsbranche," KOF Working papers 05-120, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
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    More about this item


    prosocial behavior; blood donations; material incentives; field experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health


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