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Social Image Concerns and Pro-Social Behavior

  • Lacetera, Nicola

    ()

    (University of Toronto)

  • Macis, Mario

    ()

    (Johns Hopkins University)

Using longitudinal data on the entire population of blood donors in an Italian town, we examine how donors respond to an award scheme which rewards them with “medals” when they reach certain donation quotas. Our results indicate that donors significantly increase the frequency of their donations immediately before reaching the thresholds for which the rewards are given, but only if the prizes are publicly announced in the local newspaper and awarded in a public ceremony. The results are robust to several specifications, sample definitions, and controls for observable and unobservable heterogeneity. Our findings are consistent with social image concerns being a primary motivator of pro-social behavior, and indicate that symbolic prizes are most effective as motivators when they are awarded publicly. Because we do not detect a reduction in donation frequency after the quotas are reached, this incentive based on social prestige leads to a net increase in the frequency of donations.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3771.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2010, 76 (2), 225-237
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3771
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  17. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  18. 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.
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