Julio J. Elias

Av. Córdoba 374
(C1054AAP) Ciudad de Buenos Aires


NBER Working Papers and Publications

March 2017Economic Development and the Regulation of Morally Contentious Activities
with Nicola Lacetera, Mario Macis, Paola Salardi: w23214
The regulation of many activities depends on whether societies consider them morally controversial or “repugnant”. Not only have regulation and related ethical concerns changed over time, but there is also heterogeneity across countries at a given time. We provide evidence of this heterogeneity for three morally contentious activities: abortion, prostitution and gestational surrogacy, and explore the relationship between a country’s economic conditions and how these activities are regulated. We propose a conceptual framework to identify mechanisms that can explain our findings (including the role of non-economic factors), and indicate directions for future research.

Published: Julio J. Elías & Nicola Lacetera & Mario Macis & Paola Salardi, 2017. "Economic Development and the Regulation of Morally Contentious Activities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 76-80, May. citation courtesy of

September 2016Efficiency-Morality Trade-Offs in Repugnant Transactions: A Choice Experiment
with Nicola Lacetera, Mario Macis: w22632
Societies prohibit many transactions considered morally repugnant, although potentially efficiency-enhancing. We conducted an online choice experiment to characterize preferences for the morality and efficiency of payments to kidney donors. Preferences were heterogeneous, ranging from deontological to strongly consequentialist; the median respondent would support payments by a public agency if they increased the annual kidney supply by six percentage points, and private transactions for a thirty percentage-point increase. Fairness concerns drive this difference. Our findings suggest that cost-benefit considerations affect the acceptance of morally controversial transactions, and imply that trial studies of the effects of payments would inform the public debate.
January 2015Sacred Values? The Effect of Information on Attitudes toward Payments for Human Organs
with Nicola Lacetera, Mario Macis: w20866
Many economic transactions are prohibited—even in the absence of health or safety concerns or negative externalities—because of ethical concerns that cause these exchanges to be perceived as “repugnant” if conducted through a market. Establishing a system of payments for human organs is a particularly relevant example given its implications for public health; in almost all countries, these payments are prohibited because they are considered morally unacceptable—a prohibition that societies seem to accept despite the long waitlists and high death rates for people needing a transplant. We investigate how deeply rooted these attitudes are and, in particular, whether providing information on how a price mechanism can help alleviate the organ shortage changes people’s opinions about the legaliz...

Published: Julio J. Elias & Nicola Lacetera & Mario Macis, 2015. "Sacred Values? The Effect of Information on Attitudes toward Payments for Human Organs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 361-65, May. citation courtesy of

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