SPI Working Paper Series





WP #: 127

Date: Jan 2015


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Waiting to Give

    Ashley Craig, Ellen Garbarino, Stephanie A. Heger, Robert Slonim

    Harvard University
    University of Sydney
    Washington University in St. Louis
    University of Sydney


Abstract:
We estimate the effect of an increase in time cost on the return behavior of blood donors. Using data from the Australia Red Cross Blood Service, we ask what happens when pro-social behavior becomes more costly. Exploiting natural variation in donor wait times, we use the length of time a donor spends waiting to make his donation as our measure of cost. We instrument for a donor’s wait time to explicitly address the possibility that wait times are endogenously determined. Our data allows us to go beyond measures of satisfaction and intention and estimate the effect of wait time on return behavior. We estimate that a 38% increase (20 minutes or one standard deviation) in the average wait results in a 14% decrease in donations per year. Our results thus indicate that waiting is not merely frustrating, but has significant negative long-term social costs. Similar analyses using only satisfaction and intention data mask not only the magnitude of the effects but also heterogeneous responses to increased wait time. Males respond by delaying their return to donate whole blood; female donors do not delay their whole blood donation, but are less likely to substitute into plasma donation, which is considered to be a more valuable type of donation.


SPI Quick Look:
We estimate the effect of an increase in time cost on the return behavior of blood donors. Using data from the Australia Red Cross Blood Service (the Blood Service), we ask what happens when pro-social behavior becomes more costly. Exploiting natural variation in donor wait times, we use the length of time a donor spends waiting to make his donation as our measure of cost. On average, donors in Australia wait 42 minutes to make a donation.