Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Reply to Byrne and Thompson


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IN THEIR RESPONSE, AS IN THEIR PAPER, BYRNE AND THOMPSON elide the implausible assumptions that drive their model. Consider their statement: “Only a fraction of the population need view organ donation as costly for our results to hold.” Since I agree that survey evidence “unambiguously shows” that some people do not want to be organ donors it would seem they have proven their case. Yet, they have omitted the most important aspects of their model. For their perverse supply result to occur, not only must some people who truly find the prospect of organ donation distasteful nevertheless sign their organ donor cards in response to a monetary incentive, but, also, a significant portion of families must, in an attempt to discern the donor’s “true” intentions, decide not to allow organ harvesting, reversing the express intent indicated on the card. Because of their love for the potential donor, the families will try to have their cake and eat it too—that is, receive the reward for signing the organ donor card and also receive the reward of not donating the organs.

This article is a response to Response to Tabarrok by Margaret M. Byrne and Peter Thompson (EJW, April 2004).