Blood Donations and Incentives

The ESA 2007 World Meeting continues and my pick for the afternoon of the first day is Blood Donations And Incentives: Evidence From A Large-scale Field Experiment by Lorenz Goette and Alois Stutzer. Here is the abstract:

“We conduct a large-scale field experiment to examine the impact of various manipulations on blood donations: More than 10000 blood donors were randomly assigned to one of four treatment conditions: a baseline conditions, an appeal, truthfully stating that blood donations were particularly urgent during this time of the year, a condition that promised a lottery ticket as an incentive for blood donations, and a condition that promised a health test as an incentive. This allows us to examine different theories regarding the impact of incentives on blood donations. Overall, we find that only the lottery ticket condition significantly increases blood donations. However, we find strong heterogeneity in the treatment effects. Generally, irregular donors respond much more strongly to the treatments than regular donors. There is a strong and positive effect of the lottery ticket incentive on blood donations among irregular blood donors. Regular blood donors do not respond well to any intervention. Urging regular blood donors to donate reduces donations significantly. This negative effect is weakened if a health test or the lottery ticket is offered. Thus, overall, our results lend little support to the notion that incentives reduce blood donations, as has previously been conjectured (Titmuss, 1970). However, our results also show for some groups of donors, interventions may reduce the motivation to donate blood. This effect, however, is not due to the use of incentives.”

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