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An Economics question for everyone

Kasa2103Kasa2103 Posts: 4,324 The Mix Elder
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. 
Everyone is special in their own way. We make each other strong (we make each other strong.) We're not the same. We're different in a good way. Together's where we belong. We're all in this together. Once we know. That we are. We're all stars. And we see that. We're all in this together. And it shows. When we stand. Hand in hand. Make our dreams come true.


  • AidanAidan Clever idiot Posts: 2,648 Boards Champion
    If it's an economics question, I'd guess the 'correct' answer is the one that makes the most money/ loses the least money?

    Margaret has already surpassed the life expectancy for a woman in the UK, and her age could be a complication for the lung transplant anyway. It'd be a waste of money to give her lungs for her to then pass away during the operation, and if it succeeded it might not contribute as significantly to her lifespan as it could with the younger people in need of lungs.

    Kate is a big earner so contributes big tax, but it's less than ideal that she doesn't consider stopping smoking. Being a top earner she could fly abroad for a lung transplant (or are there only 1 pair of lungs in the whole world?).

    Joanna is the youngest, so might be the healthiest person to survive the transplant and potentially could get the larger increase in lifespan from the lungs too. More lifespan = longer she's working and more tax she's paying. Being a student at 22 she also probably goes to univesity, and can expect a higher salary when she starts working and so higher tax contributions. If she's taken out a student loan, the state has 'invested' in her and will want that investment to pay off.

    However Lisa is also a (fairly) young non-smoker, and is supporting a family on top of that. Without her, they'd be a tax liability. If she was the choice for the lungs, she might not make a lot of money but it'd prevent money from being lost.

    It's a hard question! But I think the subject (economics) is a big clue to how you're supposed to approach it.  :)

    I think I'd give Lisa and Joanna one lung each (you can survive on one healthy lung!), what did you go for Kasa?
    "Do, or do not, there is no try" <(•.•)>              
  • ClaraOswaldClaraOswald TardisPosts: 144 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. People get me wrong.
     "Sometimes the only choices you have are wrong ones but you still have to choose"-Peter Capaldi, 12th Doctor  ❤️

  • 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: 831 Part of The Mix Family
    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: 827 Part of The Mix Family
    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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