Tuesday, February 11, 2020

An experiment with a blood donor registry in Australia

Forthcoming in Management Science:
Redesigning the Market for Volunteers: A Donor Registry
Stephanie A. Heger, Robert Slonim, Ellen Garbarino, Carmen Wang, Daniel Walle

Abstract. This paper addresses volunteer labor markets where the lack of price signals, nonpecuniary motivations to supply labor, and limited fungibility of supply lead to market failure. To address the causes of the market failure, we conduct a field experiment with volunteer whole blood donors where we introduce a market-clearing mechanism (henceforth: the Registry). Our intention-to-treat estimates suggest that subjects invited to the Registry, regardless of joining, are 66% more responsive to critical shortage appeals than control subjects. While the Registry increases supply during a critical shortage episode, it does not increase supply when there is no shortage; thus, the Registry significantly improves coordination between volunteer donors and collection centers, thereby improving market outcomes. We find evidence that the Registry’s effectiveness stems from crowding-in volunteers with purely altruistic motives and volunteers with a preference for commitment.

"In partnership with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, we introduced a Registry throughout Australia using a large-scale field experiment that unfolded over two rounds. We drew the sample for our experiment from the population of long-lapsed donors. Long-lapsed donors are donors who have given at least one successful whole blood donation but have not donated in at least the past 24 months"

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