Incentives for Organ Donations

A new paper from Nicola Lacetera, Mario Macis, and Sarah S. Stith (abstract; PDF) looks at whether various incentives are helping in getting more organ donations and bone-marrow donations:

In an attempt to alleviate the shortfall in organs and bone marrow available for transplants, many U.S. states passed legislation providing leave to organ and bone marrow donors and/or tax benefits for live and deceased organ and bone marrow donations and to employers of donors. We exploit cross-state variation in the timing and passage of such legislation to analyze its impact on organ donations by living and deceased persons, on measures of the quality of the organs transplanted, and on the number of bone marrow donations. We find that these provisions did not have a significant impact on the quantity of organs donated. The leave legislation, however, did have a positive impact on bone marrow donations. We also find some evidence of a positive impact on the quality of organ transplants, measured by post-transplant survival rates. Our results suggest that these types of legislation work for moderately invasive procedures such as bone marrow donation, but may be too low for organ donation, which is riskier and more burdensome to the donor.

Are we perhaps inching closer to a legal market in organs?

Tax Deductions or Tax Expenditures?

Chances are, you’re going to spend tonight finalizing your taxes, making sure that you ferret every last deduction. And probably pretty pleased to be getting these deductions; but when you dig in a bit deeper, you may not be so sure — at least that’s what Betsey Stevenson and I argue in our latest column.

In fact, tax breaks are no different from either government handouts, or federal mandates, whether evaluated in terms of your finances, the government’s finances, or incentives:

Instead of looking at all the breaks for mortgage interest, health care, retirement savings and so on as deductions, picture the government writing you a check for each item. This equivalence between tax deductions and government spending leads economists to call them “tax expenditures.” Reformers have hit on an even more pointed description: spending through the tax code.

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Likely Effects of the Tax Rebate Checks

Following my recent musings about the tax rebate checks, several people asked about the likely economic consequences of this sort of policy. My friend and colleague, Nick Souleles, is one of the leading experts on these matters, so I asked him for a short primer on what we learned from when rebate checks were sent […]

Taxes, Warren Buffett, and Paying My Fair Share

This week many of you will receive tax rebate checks from the I.R.S. Yes, that $600 you are receiving is meant to help kick start the economy. The government tried the same thing in 2001, sending out $300 checks. But this time, there’s a difference — not all of us are getting a check. In […]

What’s the Smartest Way to Spend Your Rebate?

With more than $110 billion in tax rebates set to flow into taxpayer pockets starting today, everyone from big-box retailers to restaurants to debt-collection agencies is vying for a piece of the action. But what’s the smartest way to spend your rebate — for yourself and for the larger economy? Now that we’ve considered that, […]

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