Economist studies link between helmet-free bikers, organ donors

Charlotte Observer | Bruce Siceloff

Stacy Dickert-Conlin, an economics professor at Michigan State University, likes to study unintended consequences. She and two colleagues calculated a 10 percent increase in organ donations resulting from motor vehicle accidents in states that have repealed their helmet laws.

RALEIGH Maybe you know some of the bad things that happen when states roll back their laws mandating safety helmets for all motorcycle riders:

Fewer riders wear helmets.

More riders suffer serious brain injuries in crashes, running up six- and seven-figure medical bills for families and taxpayers.

More riders die.

There’s a good thing that happens, too: With fewer lifesaving, brain-protecting helmets, we get more organ donors.

Maybe you’ve heard this morbid factoid as a bit of sardonic cocktail-party wisdom. But it was no joke to Stacy Dickert-Conlin, an economics professor at Michigan State University. She wanted to find out whether it was really true.

Dickert-Conlin likes to study unintended consequences. How does Social Security policy shape personal decisions about divorce and remarriage? Why do deer hunting regulations reduce shooting accidents and save human lives?
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