Paying for Kidneys? A Randomized Survey and Choice Experiment
43 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2019 Last revised: 26 May 2023
Date Written: February 2019
Legislation and public policies are often the result of competition and compromise between different views and interests. In several cases, strongly held moral beliefs voiced by societal groups lead lawmakers to prohibit certain transactions or to prevent them from occurring through markets. However, there is limited evidence about the specific nature of the general population’s opposition to using prices in such contentious transactions. We conducted a randomized survey with 2,666 American residents to study preferences for legalizing payments to kidney donors. We found strong polarization, with many participants supporting or opposing payments regardless of potential transplant gains. However, about 18 percent of respondents would switch to favoring payments for sufficiently large increases in transplants. Preferences for compensation have strong moral foundations; participants especially reject direct payments by patients, which they find would violate principles of fairness. We corroborate the interpretation of our findings with a choice experiment of a costly decision to donate money to a foundation that supports donor compensation.
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