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Will There Be Blood? Incentives And Substitution Effects In Pro-Social Behavior

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  • Lacetera, Nicola
  • Macis, Mario
  • Slonim, Robert

Abstract

We present evidence from observational data on nearly 14,000 American Red Cross blood drives and from a randomized natural field experiment showing that economic incentives have a positive effect on blood donations without increasing the fraction of donors who come to a drive but are ineligible to donate. We also show that the effect of incentives on donations increases with the incentive's economic value. However, we further show that a substantial proportion of the increase in donations due to incentives may be explained by donors leaving neighboring drives without incentives to attend the drive with incentives, and the likelihood of this substitution is higher the higher the monetary value of the incentive offered. We conclude that extrinsic incentives stimulate pro-social behavior, but, unless substitution effects are also considered, the effect of incentives may be overesti mated.

Suggested Citation

  • Lacetera, Nicola & Macis, Mario & Slonim, Robert, 2010. "Will There Be Blood? Incentives And Substitution Effects In Pro-Social Behavior," Working Papers 2010-02, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:syd:wpaper:2123/6958
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Gary S. Becker & Julio Jorge Elías, 2007. "Introducing Incentives in the Market for Live and Cadaveric Organ Donations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 3-24, Summer.
    3. Polborn Mattias K, 2008. "Competing for Recognition through Public Good Provision," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-25, September.
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    5. 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, June.
    6. Götte, Lorenz & Stutzer, Alois, 2008. "Blood Donations and Incentives: Evidence from a Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 3580, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    11. repec:feb:artefa:0106 is not listed on IDEAS
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    18. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Judd B. Kessler & Alvin E. Roth, 2012. "Organ Allocation Policy and the Decision to Donate," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2018-2047, August.
    2. Lan Shi, 2011. "Monetary Rewards, Image Concern, and Intrinsic Motivation: Evidence from a Survey on Blood Donation," Working Papers UWEC-2010-07-R, University of Washington, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2011.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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