Category Archives: Ethics

Roth on repugnant markets

Al Roth discusses repugnant markets in the paper  Repugnance as a Constraint on Markets
published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives,¬† Summer 2007. Vol. 21, Iss. 3. You can get an earlier draft of the paper from here. You can also read Roth’s discussion with Martha Lagace on the topic in Repugnant Markets and How They Get That Way. The Economist blog Free Exchangealso discusses Roth’s paper in Repugnant markets: it’s not just kidneys.

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Repugnant markets

Thousands of people die every year while on the waiting list for a kidney; billions have a spare kidney. There’s the possibility of a trade here, but buying and selling kidneys is widely thought of as, frankly, a repugnant exploitation of the poor by the rich. Should it be? (…) Kidney selling is just one example of a repugnant market …”

Tim Harford discussed repugnant markets in a BBC News programme, from which I took the except above. Now he takes up the issue again in his blog. Russ Roberts also discusses with Richard Epstein what we should be allowed to sell and buy in a podcast on the economics of organ donation at EconTalk.

Good food for thought.