Donorcycles: Motorcycle Helmet Laws and the Supply of Organ Donors

33 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2009 Last revised: 11 Oct 2009

See all articles by Stacy Dickert-Conlin

Stacy Dickert-Conlin

Michigan State University

Todd E. Elder

Michigan State University

Brian Moore

Michigan State University - Department of Economics

Date Written: September 4, 2009

Abstract

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

Dickert-Conlin, Stacy and Elder, Todd E. and Moore, Brian, Donorcycles: Motorcycle Helmet Laws and the Supply of Organ Donors (September 4, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1471982 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1471982

Stacy Dickert-Conlin (Contact Author)

Michigan State University ( email )

Agriculture Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824-1122
United States

Todd E. Elder

Michigan State University ( email )

110 Marshall-Adams Hall
Department of Economics
East Lansing, MI 48824
United States
517-355-0353 (Phone)

Brian Moore

Michigan State University - Department of Economics ( email )

East Lansing, MI 48824
United States

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