Saturday, January 9, 2010

Markets in Organs

I suspect one of the more interesting ways to get students to discuss the ins and outs of markets is to bring up the idea of markets for human organs. And Alex Tabarrok of George Mason University has an engaging piece in today's issue of The Wall Street Journal.

Of particular interest to me were the countries that have already enacted some kind of harvesting mechanism, whether it be a market, or some other incentive structure like "no give, no take" which moves people who opt out organ donation to the bottom of the waiting list should they ever require a transplant. The takeaway is institutional changes change behavior, but it takes some time.

There are a number of engaging podcasts available on the topic. You can find Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago talking about the topic with Russ Roberts on Econ Talk, as well as Duke University professor Mike Munger on the same site, and this discussion with Alvin Roth of Harvard on

I’d be interested in hearing from any of you who have had this topic pop up in class, either through your intent, or through student interest.

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