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Coordination and free-riding problems in blood donations


  • Ai Takeuchi

    () (College of Economics, Ritsumeikan University)

  • Erika Seki

    (Graduate School of Economics, Osaka University)


This article theoretically and experimentally examines the twin problems of free-riding and coordination failure faced by blood banks, by investigating the effects of information provision on the efficiency of blood donation. We augment a standard linear public goods game, incorporating the following features of blood donation: multiplicity of public goods (to reflect intertemporal coordination issues), current and upcoming upper bound demands (to incorporate the perishable nature of blood and the embargo period of consecutive donations), and semi-binary choices (to account for individual options to withhold donations or make donations and when). We analyze whether a provision of deterministic information on the potential blood demand (full information) would improve the efficiency of blood donation when compared to the provision of probabilistic information (partial information). The theory predicts that if each individual maximizes the payoff-sum of all players, then the full information provision would achieve donation efficiency in equilibrium. The results of laboratory experiment show that the full information provision does not improve the efficiency of donation, on an average. We find that full information improves intertemporal coordination, but it worsens the free-riding problem. Although information helps individuals to direct donations in response to the demand, it drives individuals to withhold donations to avoid potential wastage against the risk of donation over the upper bound. When the predicted total demand is relatively small, that is, when strategic uncertainty about others donation matters for achieving efficiency, the provision of information about intertemporal demand in upper bounds tends to lower efficiency because the gdonation withholding h effect becomes dominant.

Suggested Citation

  • Ai Takeuchi & Erika Seki, 2019. "Coordination and free-riding problems in blood donations," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 19-15, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:osk:wpaper:1915

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alois Stutzer & Lorenz Goette & Michael Zehnder, 2011. "Active Decisions and Prosocial Behaviour: a Field Experiment on Blood Donation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(556), pages 476-493, November.
    2. Corazzini, Luca & Cotton, Christopher & Valbonesi, Paola, 2015. "Donor coordination in project funding: Evidence from a threshold public goods experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 16-29.
    3. Blackwell, Calvin & McKee, Michael, 2003. "Only for my own neighborhood?: Preferences and voluntary provision of local and global public goods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 115-131, September.
    4. Bernasconi, Michele & Corazzini, Luca & Kube, Sebastian & Maréchal, Michel André, 2009. "Two are better than one!: Individuals' contributions to "unpacked" public goods," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 104(1), pages 31-33, July.
    5. Engl, Florian & Riedl, Arno & Weber, Roberto A., 2017. "Spillover Effects of Institutions on Cooperative Behavior, Preferences and Beliefs," IZA Discussion Papers 10781, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Robert Slonim & Carmen Wang & Ellen Garbarino, 2014. "The Market for Blood," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(2), pages 177-196, Spring.
    7. Marks, Melanie & Croson, Rachel, 1998. "Alternative rebate rules in the provision of a threshold public good: An experimental investigation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 195-220, February.
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    More about this item


    Blood donation; Free-riding; Coordination; Public goods; Laboratory experiment; Information;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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