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One of the most vivid case studies comparing the performance of market and GiftEconomies is Richard Titmuss’s examination of British and American blood banks in the 1960s. Drawing upon extensive empirical data, Titmuss concluded that commercial blood systems generally produce blood supplies of less safety, purity, and potency than volunteer systems; are more hazardous to the health of donors; and over the long run produce greater shortages of blood.

What can possibly account for these counter- intuitive deviations from market theory, which holds that the price system produces the most efficient outcomes and highest quality product? It turns out that the introduction of money into the blood transaction encourages doctors to skirt prescribed safety rules and tends to attract more drug addicts, alcoholics, prisoners, and derelicts than altruistic appeals do.

According to Titmuss, Britain’s National Blood Transfusion Service “has allowed and encouraged sentiments of altruism, reciprocity, and societal duty to express themselves; to be made explicit and identifiable in measurable patterns of behavior by all social groups and classes.” In this context, the gift economy regime is not simply “nice.” It is actually more efficient, cheaper, and safer.


Trying to turn it into a more recipricated service based on an "honors" system. Let's see if the perverse incentives kick in. If he doesn't get anything, will he stop? : http://robvincent.net/journal/index.php?p=57

See also :

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Last edited January 25, 2005 10:38 pm by RichardP (diff)