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Documento de trabajo

Euthanasia: the fear of becoming a burden

  • person

    Francisco Silva; 

  • class Documento de Trabajo IE-PUC, N° 478, 2016

Abstract: It has been widely documented in the medical literature that terminal patients often choose to end their lives out of the fear of becoming a burden to their family. But the real size of the burden, in particular its emotional component, is only known by the patient’s family. I analyze the impact of legalizing euthanasia on the ability of the family to communicate with the patient through a cheap talk model. I argue that, if euthanasia is legalized, either the patient makes his decision (of whether or not to commit suicide) uninformed of the size of the burden; or chooses what his family would have chosen if it had the power, and not necessarily what he would have preferred. I also consider the role of the physician and argue that, if the physician anticipates the family’s influence in the patient’s decision, providing incentives for the physician’s interests to be aligned with the patient’s might not be on the patient’s best interest.