Time for blood: The effect of paid leave legislation on altruistic behavior

Nicola Lacetera, Mario Macis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Organizations and public agencies that promote pro-social activities constantly struggle to attract and encourage more contributions. In this article, we study the effects of an explicit reward in the context of blood donation. Specifically, we analyze the effects of a legislative provision that grants a one-day paid leave of absence to blood donors who are employees in Italy, using a unique data set with the complete donation histories of the blood donors in an Italian town. The across-donor variation in employment status, and within-donor changes over time are the sources of variation that we employ to study whether the paid-day-off incentive affects the frequency of their donations. Our analysis indicates that the day-off privilege leads donors who are employees to make, on average, one extra donation per year, which represents an increase of around 40%. We also find that the provision has persistent effects, with donors maintaining higher donation frequencies even when they cease to be eligible for the incentive. We discuss the implications of our findings for policies aimed at reducing the shortages in the supply of blood and, more generally, for organizations that try to motivate voluntary contributors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1384-1420
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Law, Economics, and Organization
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Law


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