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Not all Incentives Wash out the Warm Glow: The Case of Blood Donation Revisited

  • Joan Costa Font
  • Mireia Jofre-Bonet
  • Steven T. Yen

The issue of the nature of the altruism inherent in blood donation and the perverse effects of financial rewards for blood and/or organ donation has been recently revisited in the economic literature with limited consensus. As Titmuss (1970) famously pointed out, providing monetary incentives to blood donors may crowd out blood supply as purely altruistic donors may feel less inclined to donate if a reward is involved - in addition to having the effect of reducing blood quality. In this paper we examine how favouring different types of incentives are related to the likelihood of donating blood by exploiting a large sample representative of the population of fifteen European countries in 2002 containing information on both donation and attitudes towards incentives. Our results show those who have donated are less likely to favour monetary rewards for blood donation but are more likely to favour non-monetary ones. This is consistent with the idea that while monetary rewards may crowd out blood donation, non-monetary rewards do not.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp1157.

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Date of creation: Jul 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1157
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  1. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2005. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," NBER Working Papers 11535, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Seabright, Paul, 2004. "Continuous Preferences Can Cause Discontinuous Choices : an Application to the Impact of Incentives on Altruism," IDEI Working Papers 257, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  3. Lacetera, Nicola & Macis, Mario, 2009. "Do All Material Incentives for Prosocial Activities Backfire? The Response to Cash and Non-Cash Incentives for Blood Donations," IZA Discussion Papers 4458, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Lacetera, Nicola & Macis, Mario, 2010. "Social image concerns and prosocial behavior: Field evidence from a nonlinear incentive scheme," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 225-237, November.
  5. Ariely, Dan & Bracha, Anat & Meier, Stephan, 2007. "Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially," IZA Discussion Papers 2968, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Ernst Fehr & Armin Falk, 2002. "Psychological Foundations of Incentives," CESifo Working Paper Series 714, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. repec:oup:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:3:p:791-810 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Le Grand, Julian, 2003. "Motivation, Agency, and Public Policy: Of Knights and Knaves, Pawns and Queens," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199266999, July.
  9. Lacetera, Nicola & Macis, Mario, 2008. "Social Image Concerns and Pro-Social Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 3771, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Bruno S. Frey & Reto Jegen, 2000. "Motivation Crowding Theory: A Survey of Empirical Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 245, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. Wildman, John & Hollingsworth, Bruce, 2009. "Blood donation and the nature of altruism," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 492-503, March.
  12. Mellström, Carl & Johannesson, Magnus, 2005. "Crowding Out in Blood Donation: Was Titmuss Right?," Working Papers in Economics 180, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised 08 Feb 2008.
  13. Frey, Bruno S & Oberholzer-Gee, Felix, 1997. "The Cost of Price Incentives: An Empirical Analysis of Motivation Crowding-Out," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 746-55, September.
  14. Michael Kosfeld & Armin Falk, 2006. "The Hidden Costs of Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1611-1630, December.
  15. 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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