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.
We thank Dr. Hugo Medici, Susana Sirena and the staff of the Centro de Medicina Transfusional y Hematologia of San Miguel de Tucuman, Argentina, for their collaboration. Soledad Omodeo provided outstanding research assistance. We benefited from the comments of Margaret McConnell and the participants at the 2012 ASSA Meetings in Chicago, the Workshop on Natural and Field Experiments in Ammersee, the MADS seminar at the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC, the Armstrong Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Simon Fraser University, Stanford University and the University of British Columbia. Financial support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Grant #410-2011-1294) and the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Small Grants Fund is gratefully acknowledged. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Social Science & Medicine Volume 98, December 2013, Pages 214–223 Cover image The effects of information, social and financial incentives on voluntary undirected blood donations: Evidence from a field experiment in Argentina Victor Iajyaa, 1, , Nicola Laceterab, 2, , Mario Macisc, , , Robert Slonimd, 3,