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Introducing Incentives in the Market for Live and Cadaveric Organ Donations

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  • Gary S. Becker
  • Julio Jorge Elías

Abstract

We evaluate the introduction of monetary incentives in the market for live and cadaveric organ donations. We show that monetary incentives would increase the supply of organs for transplant sufficiently to eliminate the very large queues in organ markets, and the suffering and deaths of many of those waiting, without increasing the total cost of transplant surgery by more than about 12 percent. We build on the value-of-life literature and other parts of economic analysis to estimate the equilibrium cost of live transplants for kidneys and livers. We also show that market price for kidneys will be determined by the cost of live donations, even though most organs will come from cadavers.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary S. Becker & Julio Jorge Elías, 2007. "Introducing Incentives in the Market for Live and Cadaveric Organ Donations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 3-24, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:21:y:2007:i:3:p:3-24
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.21.3.3
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    1. Rosen, Sherwin, 1988. "The Value of Changes in Life Expectancy," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 285-304, September.
    2. Alvin E. Roth & Tayfun Sönmez & M. Utku Ünver, 2004. "Kidney Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(2), pages 457-488.
    3. Viscusi, W Kip, 1993. "The Value of Risks to Life and Health," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 1912-1946, December.
    4. Viscusi, W Kip, 1990. "Do Smokers Underestimate Risks?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1253-1269, December.
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