Adult and child holding kidney shaped paper on textured blue background.

Nudging Organ Donation in the United States

Cross-posted from Harvard Law Today, where it originally appeared on November 13, 2020. 

By Chloe Reichel

Nationally and globally, demand for organ transplants outstrips supply. In the United States last year, 19,267 donors made a record-setting 39,718 transplants possible, but nearly 109,000 Americans still remain on the organ transplant waiting list.

Cass Sunstein ’78, Robert Walmsley University Professor and former Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration, believes “Nudge theory” might help bridge this gap between supply and demand.

Sunstein joined scholars and leaders in transplant services on Friday, Nov. 6 to discuss strategies to boost rates of organ donation at “Nudging Organ Donation: Tools to Encourage Organ Availability,” an event hosted by the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.

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Illustration of a cartoon person pushing a large yellow cube

Nudges or Shoves in the Secondary Use of Health Data: What is the More Desirable Approach? (Part I)

By Marcelo Corrales Compagnucci, Janos Meszaros & Timo Minssen

Empirical studies in behavioral economics have demonstrated how people are biased and often make poor decisions against their best interests. This has led policy makers to promote choice-preserving approaches, a.k.a. nudges. However, there has also been an increasingly vocal group of legal scholars who are interest in asking whether mandates and bans can be more effective than nudges. As pointed out by Cass R. Sunstein and others, the rationale behind this question is very simple: If we know that people make mistakes, why should we insist on adopting approaches that preserve freedom of choice?

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