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Do Economists Reach a Conclusion on Organ Liberalization?


  • Jon Diesel


By banning payments to donors, government has limited organ supply to barter and charity. Economists have generated a growing literature on organ policy. Starting with Econlit and fanning out from there, I survey and compile the published judgments of economists to see whether they preponderantly support liberalization. I classify 72 economists and find that most of those economists who publish a judgment favor liberalization to one extent or another. This consensus among the surveyed economists pretty well fits opinion of economists in general. The consensus is not universal, however. The organ issue raises interesting analytic issues in the meaning of “liberalization,” for quite a few economists favor reforms of “presumed consent” or “mandated choice,” both of which, in themselves, would seem to be a contravention of the liberty principle. These complications notwithstanding, a consensus in favor of liberalization remains quite clear. I back-up my treatment with an Excel file containing quotations.

Suggested Citation

  • Jon Diesel, 2010. "Do Economists Reach a Conclusion on Organ Liberalization?," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 7(3), pages 320-336, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:ejw:journl:v:7:y:2010:i:3:p:320-336

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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. Roth, Alvin E. & Sonmez, Tayfun & Utku Unver, M., 2005. "Pairwise kidney exchange," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 125(2), pages 151-188, December.
    3. 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.
    4. Margaret M. Byrne & Peter Thompson, 2004. "Response to Tabarrok," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 1(1), pages 19-25, April.
    5. Dennis Coates & Brad R. Humphreys, 2008. "Do Economists Reach a Conclusion on Subsidies for Sports Franchises, Stadiums, and Mega-Events?," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 5(3), pages 294-315, September.
    6. Daniel B. Klein, 2008. "Colleagues, Where Is the Market Failure? Economists on the FDA," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 5(3), pages 316-348, September.
    7. Oswald, Andrew, 2001. "Economics that Matters: Using the Tax System to Solve the Shortage of Human Organs," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2-3), pages 379-381.
    8. Alper Altinanahtar & John R. Crooker & Jamie B. Kruse, 2008. "Valuing human organs: an application of contingent valuation," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 35(1), pages 5-14, January.
    9. Fernandez, Jose & Stohr, Lisa, 2009. "The Effect of Traffic Safety Laws and Obesity Rates on Living Organ Donations," MPRA Paper 17033, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Naci Mocan & Erdal Tekin, 2005. "The Determinants of the Willingness to be an Organ Donor," NBER Working Papers 11316, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. 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.
    12. Thorne, Emanuel D, 1996. "The Cost of Procuring Market-Inalienable Human Organs," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 191-200, September.
    13. Shirley Svorny, 2004. "Licensing Doctors: Do Economists Agree?," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 1(2), pages 279-305, August.
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    More about this item


    organs; kidneys; cadavers; organ donation; organ markets; economists; presumed consent; mandated choice; organ liberalization;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values


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