Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Let People Sell Kidneys!

In 2011, 35,031 people were added to the wait list for a kidney transplant. Only 31,626 were taken off the list that year, growing the waiting list by over 3,000 people.

Of those removed, 16,195 were taken off because they got a new kidney. However, 4,959 were taken off because they died and an additional 2,506 were taken off because they became too sick to either survive the surgery or have a new kidney make the difference (it's not clear from the source which one, or both, is the case).

About half of the individuals who are waiting for a new kidney are between the ages of 50 and 64. Their median wait time (between 2003 and 2004, the most recent years available) is 1,627 days or 4.45 years.

Dialysis cost about $75,000 per patient per year. That's $3,375,000 per patient.

Even if the market price for a kidney was $100,000, that would save not only millions of dollars per patient but, by getting kidneys faster, save thousands of lives. Every. Single. Year.

Data on kidney wait list found here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sweet Thoughts

Friend and economist Brian Hollar made a tongue and cheek reference to claims that eating chocolate helps you win the Nobel Prize. Per capita chocolate consumption correlates strongly with per capita Laureates. Yes, yes, yes, we're all aware of the "correlation is not causation" platitude--though I wonder if half the people who say truly understands it--and it probably applies here. But there's probably such a story here. Not that winning Nobels cause people eat chocolate but wealthier nations eat chocolate and have more Laureates. Wealthier countries, after all, have better nutrition and caloric intake (which helps the brain develop), are safer (so smart/driven people are less likely to die young), and allow greater specialization (so smart/driven people don't get stuck doing menial labor rather than expanding the boundaries of knowledge). Moreover, wealthier countries have the capital equipment that's so helpful when doing revolutionary work. Switzerland has the highest per-capita in Laureates. Switzerland also has CERN. The heteroskedastic nature of the best fit line supports this theory: chocolate-starved countries have few Nobels but chocolate-rich ones have either many or (relatively) few. When you're wealthy, there's a lot of different things you can spend your money on. (I assume if there was a Nobel for engineering, Germany would be higher.) This is all pretty straight forward; this post is largely a record so I can remember to use this example in class when I teach research methods next year. Still, it's a fun exercise.