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Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Vol. 70, Number 7 (May 1969)

Founders Days,   pp. [16]-[23]


Page 20


Economists Studying
Guaranteed Income
   University economists have be-
gun a three-year study on the feasi-
bility of a guaranteed minimum to
America's poor. The study will seek
answers to such questions as: Under
guaranteed income will the family
become a tighter unit, better able to
identify with society, and more
aware of political events? Will these
people try to find jobs or will they
lose their incentive to work, becom-
ing dependent on government assist-
ance?
   Previously, only theoretical an-
swers could be made to these ques-
tions.
  But researchers at the Univer-
sity's Institute for Research on Pov-
erty believe that answers based on
some real evidence may not be far
away.
   The 1,000 families participating
in this experiment, sponsored by the
U. S. Office of Economic Oppor-
tunity, are from three standard
metropolitan statistical areas in
New Jersey. Actual mechanics of
the study are being handled there
by MA THEMA TICA, an indepen-
dent research organization.
  Each family will receive a mini-
mum yearly income during the
study. The researchers will vary the
treatment of different families in an
effort to find the income level plan
that works best.
   At the same time, family mem-
bers will have an incentive to con-
tinue working because they will be
able to keep a certain percentage of
what they earn.
   The researchers will conduct
quarterly interviews with each fam-
ily to determine changes in financial
position, employment status, and
economic and social attitudes.
   The experiment is focused on the
low-income family headed by a
working age male in an urban-
industrial setting.
   "While there are many other en-
vironments, we feel that the re-
sponse of our selected group is cru-
cial to a graduated work incentive
program," explains Prof. Harold
20
Watts, director of the poverty insti-
tute and a member of economics
department.
  This is because the working-age
male is most closely associated with
the labor force and thus his work
incentive would be most affected by
any type of income fixing.
  Watts believes this study is ex-
tremely relevant to the future of In-
come Maintenance Programs in the
U. S. It is the only study of its kind
at this time. Also, he adds, it is
unique in providing economists and
other social scientists with a rare
opportunity to test their hypotheses
through controlled experimentation.
Find Psychological Uplift
Among Kidney Donors
   Two University psychiatrists,
studying the donors of kidneys in
transplant operations, have found
that it may well be more blessed to
give than to receive.
  MD's Carl H. Fellner and John
R. Marshall, both of the department
of psychiatry, found "impressive in-
creases in self-esteem and changes
in way of life" in interviews with 12
kidney donors at University Hos-
pitals.
  Their study, appearing in the
Journal of the American Medical
Association, will be the basis for
developing  a routine psychiatric
screening process for all potential
donors at University Hospitals. The
screening is intended to avoid un-
desirable emotional reactions in
donors.
   One of the subjects compared it
to volunteering for a mission during
the Korean War in which he dis-
armed an unexploded bomb, thereby
saving the lives of his comrades.
  A woman donor compared it to
giving birth to a child.
   "All of the donors reported that
participation in a transplant had
been a very meaningful experience
in their lives, of substantial impact
on them, and it had brought about
changes in them which they felt
were beneficial," the psychiatrists
said.
  Here is a sampling of some com-
ments by donors:
  A 30-year-old donor: "I have
much more confidence; before, I
was more afraid of what people
would say . . . I feel that I am a
better person, much happier than
before."
  A 40-year-old donor: "I feel bet-
ter, kind of noble. I am changed. I
have passed a milestone in life, more
confidence, self esteem... In every
way I am better."
  A 25-year-old donor: "I am a
better church-goer; we think of it
as a miracle."
  In addition, the Wisconsin psy-
chiatrists cite some of the influences
that cause beneficial rather than
detrimental effects on the donors.
These include-the belief in the good
that they are doing, the positive
emotional relationship with doctors
and family, and the attention paid
them by family, friends and the
news media.
  Strikingly enough, another aspect
of the study showed that the donor's
decision to participate in a trans-
plant is usually instantaneous. The
potential donors usually decided
that they would or would not par-
ticipate as soon as the possibility of
a transplant was mentioned.
  They did not seek further infor-
mation, consider facts, or make an
informed decision, the psychiatrists
said.
  The researchers conclude that the
idea of "informed consent"---of a
donor being made fully aware of his
risks before any formal request that
he donate a kidney-is a myth.
   "In weighing the pros and cons
for a potential donor, we must also
be very much aware that to give a
kidney is not solely a liability. It
can become a turning point, a peak
experience of great positive impact
on the overall life development of
the donor," the Wisconsin psychia-
trists add.
Wisconsin Alumnus


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