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An Economics question for everyone

DancerDancer Bog Off Justine!Posts: 5,896 Part of The Furniture
Today at school I had a taster lesson to do with Economics. This is a GCSE subject (GCSE is exam based and a BTEC is coursework with an exam at the end.) We had a question that we had to answer and nobody could come up with a suitable answer and an argument for it that was not just a "whatever" argument. So here is the question:

There is a shortage of lungs avaliable for people who need a lung transplant. 4 people need a lung transplant but there is only 1 set of lungs avaliable. 

22 year old Joanna is a student with no children. She does not smoke.

32 year old Lisa is a cleaner with 2 children and a husband. She had to quit school early to support her poor family. She earns £12,000 a year so cannot afford private health care. She does not smoke.

37 year old Kate is a surgeon with a husband. She went to private school and a top university which her parents paid for. She was born to a rich family. She earns £250,000 a year so can afford private health care. She is a smoker who is not even thinking of quitting.

82 year old Margaret is a retired teacher with 4 grandchildren. She does not smoke.

Who would you give the lungs to and why? There are no right or wrong answers. It is all about how you explain it.

*All names have been changed and this a fictional case study. 
I'm a fruit loop. 🍊➰

There's a part of me I can't get back.  A little girl grew up too fast. All it took was once. I'll never be the same.


  • ClaraOswaldClaraOswald TardisPosts: 146 Helping Hand
    I think either Joanna or Lisa because they are young so would benefit most.
    Also, they both cant afford it as the others would have savings and stuff.
    Also Kate smokes :#
    My feelings are bigger on the inside.
     "I do what i do because it's right... and above all its KIND" - the 12th Doctor 💕
    The joy is worth the pain.

  • FlamejuiceFlamejuice Posts: 1 Literally just got here
    From a purely economic standpoint, I'd give it either to whoever is first on the transplant waiting list, or if we're dealing with a private medical business, whoever can afford to pay for the surgery. So in this case I'd probably give it to Kate.

    I think this question is more a philosophical one than an economics problem though, because the choice only becomes complicated if you start applying ethics and stuff to it.
  • DandelionDandelion Posts: 1,270 Wise Owl
    From an economics standpoint I would say Kate, as she earns the most money and can afford private healthcare. From a medical standpoint I’d say either Joanna or Lisa as neither of them smoke and they are young so the transplant had a higher chance of success and they lungs should last longer as they do not smoke. 
    Today is a great day for a great day. 
  • AzzimanAzziman The Mix convert Posts: 1,120 Wise Owl
    From an economics standpoint it's Kate.

    In terms of benefits:
    • She earns the most money, which also means that she pays the most in tax too. 
    • She's the most educated, and works in the most technically challenging role of the four, so is considered a highly valuable skilled worker
    • As a surgeon, she will save many more lives in her career
    • As she can afford private healthcare, she doesn't rely as much on state support there, so is less of a burden on public services spending
    In terms of opportunity costs:
    • She's the hardest to replace, as you'd need to fund a replacement person through university and specialist training in surgery.
    In terms of the complication (here, smoking):
    • While she is a smoker, it's estimated to take up off to 10 years off your life, so she'd still be able to pay taxes, save lives and not rely on state support for most of her life anyways.

    So yeah, pretty solid case for saving her!
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