Social interactions and stigmatized behavior: “Donating” blood plasma in rural China

Xi Chen, David E. Sahn, Xiaobo Zhang
iza discussion paper

Despite the resultant disutility, some people, in particular, the poor, are engaged in behaviors that carry social stigma. Empirical studies on stigmatized behavior are rare, largely due to the formidable challenges of collecting data on stigmatized goods and services. In this paper, we add to this limited empirical evidence by examining the behavior of “donating” blood plasma in exchange for cash rewards in China. We find that peer effects influence decisions to “donate” plasma. For example, a one‐standard‐deviation increase in income from “donating” plasma in the peer group increases the value of own plasma “donation” by 0.15 standard deviations. Families with sons have more incentives to “donate” plasma to offset the escalated costs of getting their sons married in a tight marriage market that favors girls.