Do All Material Incentives for Prosocial Activities Backfire? The Response to Cash and Non-Cash Incentives for Blood Donations

19 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2009

See all articles by Nicola Lacetera

Nicola Lacetera

University of Toronto - Strategic Management; University of Toronto at Mississauga - Department of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Mario Macis

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abstract

Experimental studies document that financial rewards discourage the performance of altruistic activities, because they destroy intrinsic altruistic motivations. We set up a randomized-controlled experiment, through a survey administered to 467 blood donors in an Italian town, and find that donors are not reluctant to receive compensation in general: A substantial share of respondents declared they would stop being donors if paid a small amount of cash, but we do not find such effects when a voucher of the same nominal value is offered instead. The aversion to direct cash payments is particularly marked among women and older respondents, while there are neither gender nor age differences in the response to the voucher. Implications for research and public policy are discussed.

Keywords: incentives, altruism, public good provision, pro-social behavior, public health

JEL Classification: D12, D64, I18

Suggested Citation

Lacetera, Nicola and Macis, Mario, Do All Material Incentives for Prosocial Activities Backfire? The Response to Cash and Non-Cash Incentives for Blood Donations. IZA Discussion Paper No. 4458, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1489281 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1489281

Nicola Lacetera (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Strategic Management ( email )

Canada

University of Toronto at Mississauga - Department of Management

Canada

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Mario Macis

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School ( email )

100 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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