Not All Incentives Wash Out the Warm Glow: The Case of Blood Donation Revisited


  • The authors express their gratitude to seminar participants at LSE, City, Sheffield, Lund and Manchester Universities, and the discussants at the European Conference of Health Economics in Helsinki (2010), the AES Conference in Palma (2011), M. Macis and N. Lacetera, the editor and an anonymous referee for helpful comments and criticisms which have helped greatly improve the paper. All remaining errors are ours.


The issue of the nature of the altruism inherent in blood donation and the perverse effects of financial rewards for blood giving has been recently revisited in the economic literature with limited consensus. As Titmuss (1970) famously pointed out, providing monetary incentives to blood donors may crowd out blood supply as purely altruistic donors may feel less inclined to donate. In this paper we examine how favouring different types of incentives is related to the likelihood of donating blood by exploiting a large sample representative of the population of fifteen European countries that contains information on both donation and attitudes towards incentives. Our results show that those who favour monetary rewards for blood donation are less likely to be donors and those who favour non-monetary rewards are more likely to have donated. This is consistent with the idea that while monetary rewards may crowd out blood donation, non-monetary rewards do not.