The Effects of Information, Social and Economic Incentives on Voluntary Undirected Blood Donations: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Argentina
In many low- and middle-income countries blood donations per capita are substantially lower than in advanced economies. In these countries blood supply is mostly collected through donations by relatives and friends of individuals needing transfusions or to replace blood used in emergencies. The World Health Organization considers this method of blood supply inefficient compared to undirected voluntary donations. To examine methods to motivate undirected voluntary donations, we ran a large-scale, natural field experiment in Argentina testing the effectiveness of information, social and economic incentives. We find that only higher-valued economic incentives generated more donations, increasing in the value of the incentive. These incentives did not create adverse selection in the safety and usability of the donated blood. We discuss the implications of our findings for researchers interested in understanding motivations for pro-social behavior and for health agencies and policymakers concerned with the current and growing shortages in blood supply in low- and middle-income countries.
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