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The determinants of the willingness to donate an organ among young adults: Evidence from the United States and the European Union


  • Mocan, Naci
  • Tekin, Erdal


The total value of life lost due to death because of waiting for an organ transplant was close to $5 billion in 2006 in the United States, and the excess demand for organs has been increasing over time. To shed light on the factors that impact the willingness to donate an organ, we analyze individual-level data from the United States and the European Union collected in 2001-2002. The rate of willingness to donate an organ is 38% among young adults in the US, and it is 42% in Europe. Interesting similarities emerge between the US and Europe regarding the impact of gender, political views and education on the willingness to donate an organ. In the US, Blacks, Hispanics and Catholics are less likely to donate. In Europe, individuals who reveal that they are familiar with the rules and regulations governing the donation and transplantation of human organs are more likely to donate. In both data sets, individuals who had some encounter with the health care sector--either through a recent emergency room visit (in the US), or perhaps because of a long-standing illness (in the EU), are more likely to become organ donors. Mother's education has a separate positive impact. These results point to some avenues through which organ donation propensities can be enhanced and organ shortages can be alleviated.

Suggested Citation

  • Mocan, Naci & Tekin, Erdal, 2007. "The determinants of the willingness to donate an organ among young adults: Evidence from the United States and the European Union," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(12), pages 2527-2538, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:65:y:2007:i:12:p:2527-2538

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Abadie, Alberto & Gay, Sebastien, 2006. "The impact of presumed consent legislation on cadaveric organ donation: A cross-country study," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 599-620, July.
    2. Viscusi, W Kip & Aldy, Joseph E, 2003. "The Value of a Statistical Life: A Critical Review of Market Estimates throughout the World," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 5-76, August.
    3. Reubsaet, Astrid & van den Borne, Bart & Brug, Johannes & Pruyn, Jean & van Hooff, Hans, 2001. "Determinants of the intention of Dutch adolescents to register as organ donors," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 383-392, August.
    4. repec:reg:rpubli:282 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Byrne, Margaret M. & Thompson, Peter, 2001. "A positive analysis of financial incentives for cadaveric organ donation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 69-83, January.
    6. Yeung, Iris & Kong, S. H. & Lee, Janet, 2000. "Attitudes towards organ donation in Hong Kong," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 50(11), pages 1643-1654, June.
    7. Martínez, José M. & López, Jorge S. & Martín, Antonio & Martín, María J. & Scandroglio, Barbara & Martín, José M., 2001. "Organ donation and family decision-making within the Spanish donation system," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 53(4), pages 405-421, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Schweda, Mark & Schicktanz, Silke, 2009. "Public ideas and values concerning the commercialization of organ donation in four European countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1129-1136, March.
    2. Verheijde, Joseph L. & Rady, Mohamed Y. & McGregor, Joan L. & Friederich-Murray, Catherine, 2009. "Enforcement of presumed-consent policy and willingness to donate organs as identified in the European Union Survey: The role of legislation in reinforcing ideology in pluralistic societies," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 26-31, April.
    3. van Dalen, Hendrik P. & Henkens, Kène, 2014. "Comparing the effects of defaults in organ donation systems," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 137-142.


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