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To Be a Blood Donor or Not to Be? Investigating Institutional and Student Characteristics at a Military College

  • Bing Jiang EMAIL logo and Samuel K. Allen


Using data from 21 voluntary blood drives over a five-year period, we establish connections between undergraduate students’ blood donation behaviors and their demographic, academic, leadership, and military characteristics at a military college in the United States. We find that blood donation participation rates for students at this military college are much higher than the national average for the 18- to 24-year-olds. Certain characteristics such as fitness, athletic status, academic performance, and intent to pursue a military career after graduation are significantly correlated with blood donation. We also find that college students’ blood donation behaviors may be influenced by their attitudes toward civic responsibility, time constraints, incentives, peer effects and the characteristics of blood collection agencies. This study provides new insights into individual characteristics that correlate with blood donation. It also highlights the role of unique military education and institutional characteristics in promoting better fitness, the pursuit of a military career, and selfless service among young people, all of which might help explain demonstrated higher blood donation participation than their peers elsewhere.

JEL Classification: D90; I12; I23; J18


We would like to thank Monika Dickens for assistance in collecting blood donation data and the VMI Registrar’s Office for providing the student data. We are grateful for audiences at the Southern Economic Association conference and the Washington & Lee/VMI Economics Seminar where this paper was presented. In particular, we would like to thank Valentina Dimitrova-Grajzl, Xiaochun (Martin) Liu, and Traviss Cassidy for offering helpful suggestions. We especially appreciate our editor and two anonymous referees for reviewing our paper and providing constructive feedback. All errors are ours.


Table 4:

Pooled OLS regressions (full panel).

VariablesDonor (1)Donor (2)Donor (3)Donor (4)Donor (5)
Demographic & Physical Attributes:
Fitness (Passed Test)−0.0276***−0.0273***−0.0276***−0.0282***−0.0303***
Leadership Variables:
Pursuing a Military Career−0.0334***−0.0367***−0.0340***−0.0339***−0.0309***
Background & Behavioral:
NCAA Athlete−0.0848***−0.0886***−0.0909***−0.0919***−0.0997***
Out-of-State Student−0.0246***−0.0235***−0.0226***−0.0224***−0.0220***
Demerits Accrued0.000605***0.000589***0.000571***0.000574***0.000643***
GPA (Above Average)−0.0100−0.00848−0.00879−0.00849−0.0103
Roommate (Donor)0.109***0.108***0.107***0.107***0.105***
Blood Drive Characteristics:
Drive – VA Blood Services0.0195***0.0217***0.0217***0.0217***0.0254***
September Drive0.0672***0.0529***0.0530***0.0530***0.0550***
December Drive0.0357***0.0215***0.0216***0.0216***0.0263***
February Drive0.0287***0.0250***0.0250***0.0251***0.0312***
AY 2012–2013−0.0711***−0.0713***−0.0725***−0.0568***
AY 2013–2014−0.000534−0.000722−0.001500.0104
AY 2014–2015−0.00494−0.00526−0.00589−4.05e-05
AY 2015–2016−0.0212***−0.0217***−0.0222***−0.0208***
AY 2016–2017−0.0124*−0.0125*−0.0129*−0.0124*
Major Field Controls:NoNoYesYesYes
ROTC Controls:NoNoNoYesYes
Corps Controls:NoNoNoNoYes
Number of Students4,0084,0084,0084,0083,341
  1. Notes: The omitted groups are Senior, Fifth-year Senior, Marine, Regimental Company, Academic Year 2017–2018, and April Drive.

  2. Cluster-robust standard errors in parentheses. ***p < 0.01, **p < 0.05, *p < 0.1.

Table 5:

OLS fixed effects regressions (full panel).

VariablesDonor (1)Donor (2)Donor (3)Donor (4)Donor (5)
Demographic & Physical Attributes:
Fitness (Passed Test)0.0195***0.0200***0.0204***0.0204***0.0196**
Leadership Variables:
Pursuing A Military Career0.133***0.121***0.122***0.122***0.123***
Background & Behavioral:
NCAA Athlete−0.0818***−0.0844***−0.0838***−0.0839***−0.0901***
Out-of-State Student0.2240.2260.2260.2260.226
Demerits Accrued0.000407**0.000341*0.000342*0.000343**0.000344*
GPA (Above Average)−0.0579**−0.0528*−0.0530*−0.0514*−0.0513*
Roommate (Donor)0.0923***0.0914***0.0914***0.0914***0.0912***
Blood Drive Characteristics:
Drive – VA Blood Services0.0204***0.0229***0.0228***0.0229***0.0267***
September Drive0.0730***0.0654***0.0654***0.0654***0.0675***
December Drive0.0390***0.0318***0.0319***0.0318***0.0369***
February Drive0.0295***0.0252***0.0252***0.0252***0.0310***
AY 2012–20130.1640.1640.1640.133
AY 2013–20140.169**0.169**0.169**0.147
AY 2014–20150.113*0.113*0.113*0.0958
AY 2015–20160.04840.04880.04890.0369
AY 2016–20170.02540.02580.02590.0201
Major Field Controls:NoNoYesYesYes
ROTC Controls:NoNoNoYesYes
Corps Controls:NoNoNoNoYes
Number of Students4,0084,0084,0084,0083,341
  1. Notes: The omitted groups are Senior, Fifth-year Senior, Marine, Regimental Company, Academic Year 2017–2018, and April Drive.

  2. Cluster-robust standard errors in parentheses. ***p < 0.01, **p < 0.05, *p < 0.1

Table 6:

Comparisons of fixed effects models – OLS and logit (reduced panel).

VariablesOLS (1)Logit (1) Marginal EffectsOLS (2)Logit (2) Marginal Effects
Fitness (Passed Test)0.0335***0.0239***0.0340***0.0249***
Pursuing A Military Career0.239***0.156***0.220***0.148***
NCAA Athlete−0.134***−0.0906***−0.139***−0.0976***
Out-of-State Student0.2390.09150.2490.0999
Demerits Accrued0.000733**0.000469***0.000660**0.000417**
GPA (Above Average)−0.112**−0.0739*−0.101**−0.0689*
Roommate (Donor)0.152***0.0918***0.150***0.0934***
Drive – VA Blood Services0.0413***0.0244***0.0455***0.0277***
AY 2012–20130.1840.101
AY 2013–20140.2150.120*
AY 2014–20150.1230.0748
AY 2015–20160.04050.0184
AY 2016–20170.02280.0112
September Drive0.127***0.0834***0.116***0.0780***
December Drive0.0647***0.0477***0.0534***0.0413***
February Drive0.0558***0.0386***0.0479***0.0353***
Number of Students1,8171,8171,8171,817
  1. Notes: The dependent variable is "Donor". The omitted groups are Senior, Fifth-year Senior, Marine, Regimental Company, Academic Year 2017–2018, and April Drive.

  2. Cluster-robust standard errors in parentheses for OLS fixed effects models (1) and (2).

  3. Standard errors in parentheses for logit fixed effects models (1) and (2).

  4. ***p < 0.01, **p < 0.05, *p < 0.1


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Published Online: 2019-06-21

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