Thursday, November 20, 2008
Obviously one of the things I was assuming in my first post was that material incentives (money) will result in increased supply of organs by individuals. This may be an incorrect assumption.
For example, Richard Titmuss did research on blood donations in the UK and showed that the introduction of payments reduced donations, i.e. overall supply. Which means that the mechanism to be implemented needs to have a nuanced design such that it does not crowd-out donations that are already occurring because of altruism. Instead it should, somehow, maintain these altruistic incentives while also allowing those who would be positively incentivised to donate because of material incentives to enter into the market.
I am not sure how to do this as of yet. But I still think it is something to which we should aspire. Far too many people are dying and, until we can artificially construct new organs (one day...), offering material incentives is one option that just has not been explored. There are many ways to offer payments if you are worried about it being callous, and I believe it can be done in a way that allows for longer life for those who want it and increases in welfare for those who needed the money in the first place.
Another article to look at on the problem of the introduction of material incentives is Sam Bowles' recent article, on which I blogged here.