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Not All Incentives Wash Out the Warm Glow: The Case of Blood Donation Revisited

  • Joan Costa-i-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 take a different approach by focusing on the nature of the rewards. That is, we examine how favouring different types of incentives are related to the likelihood of donating blood by exploiting a large sample representative of 15 European countries in 2002. Our results show that donors 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 CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3527.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3527
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  1. Michael Kosfeld & Armin Falk, 2006. "The Hidden Costs of Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1611-1630, December.
  2. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2004. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," Working Papers 137, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics..
  3. 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.
  4. Dan Ariely & Anat Bracha & Stephan Meier, 2009. "Doing Good or Doing Well? Image Motivation and Monetary Incentives in Behaving Prosocially," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 544-55, March.
  5. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "Pay Enough Or Don'T Pay At All," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 791-810, August.
  6. 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.
  7. Wildman, John & Hollingsworth, Bruce, 2009. "Blood donation and the nature of altruism," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 492-503, March.
  8. Carl Mellström & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Crowding Out in Blood Donation: Was Titmuss Right?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(4), pages 845-863, 06.
  9. Ernst Fehr, 2003. "Psychological Foundations of Incentives," Microeconomics 0305010, EconWPA.
  10. Bruno S. Frey & Reto Jegen, 2000. "Motivation Crowding Theory: A Survey of Empirical Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 245, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. 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.
  12. 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).
  13. 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.
  14. Le Grand, Julian, 2003. "Motivation, Agency, and Public Policy: Of Knights and Knaves, Pawns and Queens," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199266999.
  15. Lacetera, Nicola & Macis, Mario, 2008. "Social Image Concerns and Pro-Social Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 3771, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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