Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Do Economists Reach a Conclusion on Organ Liberalization?


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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.

Podcast related to this article: Jon Diesel on Economists and Organ Liberalization (EJW Audio, January 2015).