Article | American Economic Review | August 2012

Organ Allocation Policy and the Decision to Donate

by Judd B. Kessler and Alvin E. Roth


Organ donations from deceased donors (cadavers) provide the majority of transplanted organs in the United States, and one deceased donor can save numerous lives by providing multiple organs. Nevertheless, most Americans are not registered organ donors despite the relative ease of becoming one. We study in the laboratory an experimental game modeled on the decision to register as an organ donor and investigate how changes in the management of the organ waiting list might impact the donation rate. We find that an organ allocation policy giving priority on waiting lists to those who previously registered as donors has a significant positive impact on registration.

Keywords: Health; Giving and Philanthropy; Decision Making; Resource Allocation; Mathematical Methods; United States;


Kessler, Judd B., and Alvin E. Roth. "Organ Allocation Policy and the Decision to Donate." American Economic Review 102, no. 5 (August 2012): 2018–2047.