Presentation Title

P-02 Does Medical Crowdfunding Increase Social Inequality?

Presenter Information

Kristen WitzelFollow

Presenter Status

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Department of Behavioral Sciences

Preferred Session

Poster Session

Start Date

25-10-2019 2:00 PM

Presentation Abstract

In recent years, more Americans have turned to crowdfunding sites to help with medical bills and related expenses. Since its launch in 2010, the donation-based crowdfunding platform GoFundMe has raised over $5 billion from its “community” of more than fifty million donors, with medical campaigns representing the site’s largest category (GoFundMe.com, 2018). While GoFundMe promotes itself as a “digital safety net” (Harris, 2017), scholars have been less optimistic, claiming that medical crowdfunding may actually deepen existing social inequalities, by diverting attention from systemic problems in the health care system to campaigns based on individual appeal and worthiness. These evaluations of worthiness can be prejudiced by attitudes about race, age, or gender, and influenced by donor preferences for particular kinds of illnesses. Although many scholars agree that these variables are relevant to crowdfunding success, few studies have systematically examined them. The present study aims to address this issue by scraping data from the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe to create a database of all its medical crowdfunding campaigns in Michigan. Variables for gender, race/ethnicity, age, and illness type will be created and compared with measures of project support and project success to determine if inequalities exist.

Acknowledgments

Andrews University, Office of Research, Faculty Research Grant

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Oct 25th, 2:00 PM

P-02 Does Medical Crowdfunding Increase Social Inequality?

In recent years, more Americans have turned to crowdfunding sites to help with medical bills and related expenses. Since its launch in 2010, the donation-based crowdfunding platform GoFundMe has raised over $5 billion from its “community” of more than fifty million donors, with medical campaigns representing the site’s largest category (GoFundMe.com, 2018). While GoFundMe promotes itself as a “digital safety net” (Harris, 2017), scholars have been less optimistic, claiming that medical crowdfunding may actually deepen existing social inequalities, by diverting attention from systemic problems in the health care system to campaigns based on individual appeal and worthiness. These evaluations of worthiness can be prejudiced by attitudes about race, age, or gender, and influenced by donor preferences for particular kinds of illnesses. Although many scholars agree that these variables are relevant to crowdfunding success, few studies have systematically examined them. The present study aims to address this issue by scraping data from the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe to create a database of all its medical crowdfunding campaigns in Michigan. Variables for gender, race/ethnicity, age, and illness type will be created and compared with measures of project support and project success to determine if inequalities exist.