Thursday, July 30, 2020

Surrogacy and global kidney exchange receive popular support even where banned, in PNAS by Roth and Wang

Popular repugnance contrasts with legal bans on controversial markets
Alvin E. Roth and  Stephanie W. Wang
PNAS first published July 29, 2020
reviewed by Nicola Lacetera and Mario Macis

Abstract: We study popular attitudes in Germany, Spain, the Philippines, and the United States toward three controversial markets—prostitution, surrogacy, and global kidney exchange (GKE). Of those markets, only prostitution is banned in the United States and the Philippines, and only prostitution is allowed in Germany and Spain. Unlike prostitution, majorities support legalization of surrogacy and GKE in all four countries. So, there is not a simple relation between public support for markets, or bans, and their legal and regulatory status. Because both markets and bans on markets require social support to work well, this sheds light on the prospects for effective regulation of controversial markets.

"Our main result is that (unlike prostitution) the laws banning surrogacy and GKE do not seem to reflect popular demand. Neither do these bans reflect that opponents of legalization feel more strongly than supporters.
"All three transactions are the subject of current debate in at least one of the countries we surveyed.¶¶ Based on the results of our surveys, we do not see entrenched popular resistance to either surrogacy or GKE (or simple kidney exchange) where it is presently illegal, and thus, we anticipate that efforts to lift or circumvent current restrictions are likely to be increasingly successful, while efforts to legalize or decriminalize prostitution where it is presently illegal may face greater opposition from the general public.

"Understanding these issues is important, not just for the hundreds of Spanish couples stranded outside of Spain while they look for a way to bring their surrogate children home and not just for the people in need of kidney exchange but for whom it is out of reach in Germany or in the Philippines. These issues are also of importance to social scientists in general and economists in particular. When markets enjoy social support, when they are banned, and when, in turn, bans are socially supported are questions that touch upon many transactions, particularly as social and economic interactions are increasingly globalized.

"Our findings suggest that the answer to these questions may not be found in general public sentiment in countries that ban markets or legalize them. Rather, we may have to look to the functioning of particular interested groups, perhaps with professional or even religious interests, that are able to influence legislation in the absence of strong views (or even interest) among the general public about the markets in question."

Here's the published citation:
Roth, Alvin E. and Stephanie W. Wang, “Popular Repugnance Contrasts with Legal Bans on Controversial Markets,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS),  August 18, 2020 117 (33) 19792-19798; 

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