Economic Thinking Outside the Box

Nov 14, 2007Nov 15, 2007
B-339 Rayburn House Office Building

Event Video


Session One: Wednesday, November 14th
Market for Martyrs & Radical Religion
Dr. Laurence Iannaccone 
Senior Scholar
Mercatus Center 
George Mason University Center for the
Economic Study of Religion

Click Here to view a video archive of day one of this course.

Session Two: Thursday, November 15th
Solutions to Organ Donor Shortage
Dr. Alex Tabarrok
Mercatus Center

Click Here to view a video archive of day two of this course. 

Click Here to view Dr. Tabarrok's powerpoint presentation.  

Economics has been called "the dismal science" however, it can be a valuable tool to analyze any policy decision. Economic Thinking Outside the Box will address two important issues that are not commonly associated with economics in The Market for Martyrs and Radical Religion and Solutions to Organ Donor Shortage.

U.S. Defense Policy has been shaped in response to the threat of religious extremism in recent years. Dr. Larry Iannaccone will discuss this topic from an economic perspective.  The "market for martyrs" helps us understand the incentive structure facing suicide bombers, why only a small percentage of religious extremists actually become violent, and why these groups are so difficult to dismantle.

Every year thousands of people die while waiting for an organ transplant. Some countries have used legal markets and other alternative methods to address their donor shortages and their experiences shows that these deaths are unnecessary. Alex Tabarrok, a George Mason University economic professor and coauthor of Marginal Revolution, a leading economics blog, will examine the economic perspectives of this growing crisis.

Join us as we try to answer questions regarding these policy issues, such as:

  • What does the economic way of thinking tell us about the effect of religious institutions on behavior? How do religious groups influence individuals and communities?
  • Why are "extreme" forms of religious belief popular and why do extremists stay within their respective groups despite the sacrifice required? Why are markets for martyrs difficult to establish and maintain?
  • What are the costs and benefits of relying on altruism for organ donations?
  • What effects have the current regulations had on the growing global black market for organs?
  • What are the social ramifications of a legal market for organs?