Non-religious, socially involved NL residents most likely to be organ donors

Non-religious residents of the Netherlands are more likely to be organ donors than their religious counterparts. The level of social involvement also plays a major role in the decision to donate one's organs after death, according to a study by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

Over 35 percent of people who do not identify as participating in a religion have registered as an organ donor, compared to roughly 25 percent of religious people. This also varies dramatically depending on which religion a person follows.

“For example, the Roman Catholic church has traditionally been positive about organ donation, while the Protestant church places the responsibility more emphatically on the individual. This may explain why Roman Catholics are more likely to donate than Protestants,” the CBS said.

“The willingness to donate organs is by far the lowest among Muslims. In Islam, on the one hand, it is encouraged to help sick people, but on the other hand, it is also important that the body remains intact after death.”

About 28 percent of active and 30 percent non-practicing Protestant Church members are organ donors. Among Roman Catholics, it is 25 percent active and 31.5 percent non-practicing members. And in Islam, 1 percent of active believers registered as organ donors, and about 3 percent of non-practicing Muslims. 

In addition to religion, a person's social capital - their "networks together with shared norms, values and understandings that facilitate within or among groups" - has a clear impact on how likely they are to become an organ donor. Nearly 50 percent of those scoring highest on a ten-point social capital scale are registered to be an organ donor, while fewer than 20 percent registered as a donor if they rank the lowest on the social capital scale.

“It is assumed that social capital plays a crucial role in this consideration, because - unlike other forms of giving such as charitable donation - the recipient cannot be designated. Without any connection with society, there is no reason to become an organ donor." CBS said.

A number of other personal attributes were also found to be related to being an organ donor. “Women, the highly educated, 25- to 65-year-olds and people without an ethnic minority background are more likely to be organ donors than men, the less well-educated, the youth and the over-65s, and immigrants (in particular those with a non-Western background).”