Donorcycles: Motorcycle Helmet Laws and the Supply of Organ Donors
33 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2009 Last revised: 11 Oct 2009
Date Written: September 4, 2009
Government traffic safety mandates are typically designed to reduce the harmful externalities of risky behaviors. We consider whether motorcycle helmet laws also reduce a beneficial externality by decreasing the pool of viable organ donors. Our central estimates show that organ donations resulting from fatal motor vehicle accidents increase by 10 percent when states repeal helmet laws. Two characteristics of this association suggest that it is causal: first, nearly all of it is concentrated among men, who account for over 90 percent of all motorcyclist deaths, and second, helmet mandates are unrelated to organ donations due to circumstances other than motor vehicle accidents. Our estimates imply that every death of a helmetless motorcyclist prevents or delays as many as 0.33 deaths among individuals on organ transplant waiting lists.
Keywords: externality, traffic safety, organ donation
JEL Classification: H23, I18, J18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation