Three economists say they have found evidence suggesting that state organ donor leave laws may do more to increase donations of bone marrow than to increase donations of solid organs, such as hearts and kidneys.
The researchers -- Nicola Lacetera, Mario Macis and Sarah Stith -- have published the study behind a paywall, as a working paper on the website of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Lacetera and her colleagues tried to analyze the effects of state organ donor leave laws and related incentives, such as tax breaks for donors, by comparing donation results and other outcomes, such as survival rates for the sick people seeking organs and marrow, in states with donor incentive laws and states without donor incentive laws.
In some states, the leave laws provide paid or unpaid leave only for state employees. In other cases, the leave laws apply to private employers as well as to state employees, the researchers say.
"Our results indicate that the legislation had no overall effect on the number of [solid] organ donations," the researchers report.
That result held even when the researchers analyzed the data in many different ways, the researchers say.
"In contrast, and consistent with our prior, we do find a positive effect of leave legislation on bone marrow donation," the researchers say. "Specifically, we find a positive effect of leave legislation for state employees on bone marrow donations, provided that a sufficient share of a state’s labor force is state-employed (i.e., when the size of the population actually affected by the law is larger). Our estimated coefficient implies that leave legislation for state employees has a positive effect on bone marrow donations if state employees represent at least 5% of the labor force, which is the case for about 45% of our sample of state-years."
The researchers say they found some signs that leave laws might lead to an increase in the quality of the organs donated.
Leave laws may have more of an effect on marrow donations because donating bone marrow is much simpler, safer and quicker for the donor than donating a solid organ is, the researchers say.