"Organ transplantation holds the potential to substantially restore the health of many otherwise terminally ill patients. That potential, however, is currently being denied full realization by a chronic and severe shortage of cadaveric organs that are made available for this use. In recent years, medical practitioners, social scientists, and others have debated the virtues of allowing markets for cadaveric organs to form as a way to end the current shortage. In this debate, market opponents have argued," inter alia, "that (1) organ collections may fall with payment of positive prices and (2) the price required to equilibrate organ supply and demand would be high. On the other hand, proponents of organ markets have argued that financial inducements could save many lives and that the equilibrium price is likely to be low. While dozens of papers have been published debating this issue, to date no one has provided any empirical evidence to resolve these important questions of supply. This paper provides preliminary evidence suggesting that potential donors would be relatively responsive to financial inducements and, accordingly, that the price required to eliminate the current shortage of organs is surprisingly low. (JEL" 118, L50) Copyright 1999 Western Economic Association International.
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