David R. Henderson  

Mankiw's Clarity on Kidney Exchanges

Are Intellectuals Pessimistic?... Seasteading, Strategic Fertili...

Mankiw hits a home run in a short space.

In a blog post on Sunday, Greg Mankiw hit a home run in discussing the sale of kidneys. It's so well done, and so succinctly done, that there's no point in my trying to summarize it.

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CATEGORIES: Microeconomics

COMMENTS (5 to date)
Liam writes:

Thanks, David.

I have a new blo to follow and from the posts I have read so far it looks to be a great one

Jim writes:

I read Mankiw and then the NYTimes "so-called "Ethicist"".
Three points:
1. Mankiw demeans the ethicist (see quote above) but fails to report, as the ethicist stated, that in America outright organ sales are illegal. A poor public ethicist if they had not stated the law. Why didn't Mankiw?
2. A key point-of-fact in the storyline is "a short time later" (Mankiw), "last fall" (ethicist) - a relatively short time between the kidney donation and the request for $. The ethicist states if the donee suspects the donor gave the kidney while also knowing her financial condition was poor and simultaneously hoping for a sympathetic response to a future request for money (to prevent foreclosure)... the donee should not collaborate i.e. not give money.
This seems like baloney. If the donee is grateful for a gift and has money to give - then do give.
3. Mankiw sums it up that the ethicist's code of conduct causes more deaths and more foreclosures "all in the name of fairness". If there had been a transaction the kidney would have arrived at some patient (perhaps not the one who received it by position On a waiting list) and the donor would have some money. But my dim view of folks with no savings is that had the Time Element in this story been long (say a year or two) Mankiw would not have been able to get by with the prevention of the foreclosure as the donor would have received the $$ and spent it.

David R. Henderson writes:

I think Mankiw probably assumed that people who read his blog know that organ sales are illegal. After all, that's why we've been discussing it on the various blogs. Economists don't tend to defend the ethics of car sales because we don't need to, but we would if car sales were illegal.

Yancey Ward writes:

Of course, the unstated thing here is that to close the "loophole", the two parties must be coerced into never having any kind of financial transaction with each other than the single kidney transfer- afterward and before.

Liam writes:

What if you're related? If my brother gave me $10,000 and then I donated my kidney is there anyway you could prove they are related? Would people still attach a stigma to it? With someone NOT related would you actually trust them to pay up? Or to go through with the operation? And if they didn’t hold up their end would you blame them?
If a woman can be a surrogate isn't that the same thing? But instead of a kidney it's an entire person?

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