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Allocating Scarce Organs: How a Change in Supply Affects Transplant Waiting Lists and Transplant Recipients


  • Stacy Dickert-Conlin
  • Todd Elder
  • Keith Teltser


Vast organ shortages motivated recent efforts to increase the supply of transplantable organs, but we know little about the demand side of the market. We test the implications of a model of organ demand using the universe of US transplant data from 1987 to 2013. Exploiting variation in supply induced by state-level motorcycle helmet laws, we demonstrate that each organ that becomes available from a deceased donor in a particular region induces five transplant candidates to join that region's transplant wait list, while crowding out living-donor transplants. Even with the corresponding demand increase, positive supply shocks increase post-transplant survival rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Stacy Dickert-Conlin & Todd Elder & Keith Teltser, 2019. "Allocating Scarce Organs: How a Change in Supply Affects Transplant Waiting Lists and Transplant Recipients," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 210-239, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:11:y:2019:i:4:p:210-39
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.20170476

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D47 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Market Design
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health


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