Blood Donation as a Public Good: An Empirical Investigation of the Free-Rider

Ignacio Abásolo, Aki Tsuchiya


A voluntary blood donation system can be seen as a public good. People can take advantage without contributing, which leads to the so called free-rider problem. An empirical study is undertaken to analyse the extent of free-riding and its determinants in this context. Interviews of the general public in Spain (n=1,211) ask whether respondents are (or have been) regular blood donors; and if not, the reason. Free-riders are defined as those individuals who have no medical reason that disables them to donate blood and are not blood donors. We distinguish four different categories of free-riders depending on the reason given for not donating. Binomial and multinomial logit models are specified to estimate the effect of individual characteristics on both the propensity to free-ride and the likelihood to belong to one of the free-rider categories. Model estimates show that amongst those individuals who are able to donate, there is a 67% probability of being a free-rider. The most likely free-rider is female, single, with primary school or no education and who abstained in the 2004 elections. Gender, age, religion practice, political participation, and income of the region of residence are found to be background variables that explain the type of free-rider.