The Market for Blood

We present evidence from nearly 14,000 American Red Cross blood drives and from a natural field experiment showing that economic incentives have a positive effect on blood donations without increasing the fraction of donors who are ineligible to donate. The effect increases with the incentive’s economic value. However, a substantial proportion of the increase in donations is explained by donors leaving neighboring drives without incentives to attend drives with incentives.

AEJ Policy paper. HT to Chris Blattman via Tyler.

Comments (4)

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  1. Studebaker says:

    I’m always suspicious of blood drives. Blood banks make large sums of money by soliciting donations from well-meaning individuals and the blood is then sold at a steep profit to hospitals. Donors should be allowed to profit from tissue, organs and blood. Currently, it’s legal to pay for plasma but little else.

  2. Davie says:

    Incentives can serve as a very powerful mechanism to encourage altruism. This seems to hold as true in health policy as in any other field.

  3. Brian says:

    Good point, Studebaker.

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