Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New currencies that are a natural for laundering

This post isn't about bitcoin, or about prison economies, although it's closer to the second then the first. Neal Becker points me to this article about the use of Tide detergent as a currency in which you can buy drugs...(the article is mostly about how Tide has become a target for professional shoplifters who can fence it without too much difficulty):

Suds for Drugs
Tide detergent: Works on tough stains. Can now also be traded for crack. A case study in American ingenuity, legal and otherwise.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Polygamy in Kenya

Polygamy is an ancient practice in Kenya, but proposed new legislation that codifies that existing wives need not be consulted about new wives is causing some controversy. Here are two headlines that give the picture even before you start reading the stories...

Kenya’s new marriage law legalises polygamy
Kenyan Christian leaders oppose polygamy bill

From the first story:
"Kenya’s male-dominated parliament passed a new controversial marriage law not only legalises polygamy, but allows men to marry without consulting their other spouses. A majority of lawmakers - all men - even agreed to drop a proposal to ban bride price payments (usually in the form of cows). 
According to local news reports, half of Kenya’s 69 female MPs refused to take part in the debate held in the 349-member parliament last week. The women who did attend parliament stormed out in protest. 
Traditionally, first wives are supposed to give prior approval for their husband’s second marriage. According to Samuel Chepkong’a, the MP who proposed the amendment to this custom, however, no consultation is necessary because a woman who gets married under customary law already knows the marriage is open to polygamy. 
“When you marry an African woman, she must know the second one is on the way and a third wife… this is Africa,” Chepkong’a was quoted as saying by Kenya’s Capital News website. "
And from the second story:
"NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) Christian leaders are appealing to President Uhuru Kenyatta not to sign into law a proposed new marriage bill that legalizes polygamy.
"But the National Council of Churches of Kenya, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, have rejected it, saying the law will undermine Christian principles of marriage and family.
The Rev. Peter Karanja, general secretary the Kenyan church council, said the bill demeans women and fails to respect the principle of spouses’ equality in marriage."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Videos of my Marshall Lectures at Cambridge

On February 18-19 I gave two Marshall Lectures at Cambridge:
I. Labor market clearinghouses for doctors in the U.S. and U.K.
II. Kidney exchange  (and repugnant transactions)

Three videos have now been posted at this link (both seminars, and the question and answer period): 

Both lectures are about an hour; the first lecture begins with me being introduced, I start speaking at 3:35. The Q&A is about 20 minutes.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

UNOS produces a video to inform hospitals about kidney paired donation (kidney exchange)

Video module explains features and benefits of the OPTN kidney paired donation pilot program

More than half of the eligible kidney transplant hospitals currently participate in the OPTN KPD Pilot Program, but for those that don’t, a video is now available to provide more information.  The video module (8:45) shows how staff members at a transplant hospital decide to join the program. The video overview was created by UNOS staff in close consultation with KPD Work Group leadership. It describes the mission and goals of the program, outlines the benefits of the program for hospitals, and explains how the program increases patient access to transplants.
Contact the KPD Program Manager with questions at kidneypaireddonation@unos.org.
- See more at: http://transplantpro.org/video-module-explains-features-benefits-optn-kidney-paired-donation-pilot-program/#sthash.DNbvVu8D.dpuf

"The module was created by UNOS Instructional Innovations with the goal to provide living kidney donor transplant hospitals, who are not yet participating in KPD, some information about the program.


Friday, April 11, 2014

I talk to International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation

Normally when I talk to transplant surgeons I talk about kidney exchange, and sometimes I talk about repugnant transactions as they relate to compensating live donors. But this weekend I'll be speaking to surgeons interested in organs that can't be exchanged, like hearts. So I'll be speaking about deceased organ donation, and what economists are starting to understand about that...

Here's their press release about my talk

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Snyder lecture at UCSB, The Economist as Engineer


UC Santa Barbara Economics


Carl Snyder Memorial Lecture

This year's public lecture, The Economist as Engineer , will be held on April 10, 2014 at the University of California, Santa Barbara's Corwin Pavilion at 3:30. Admission is free. Seating is limited.

Alvin Roth is the Craig and Susan McCaw Professor of Economics at Stanford University and the 2012 recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. Professor Roth specializes in game theory, experimental economics and market design.

How to bring different actors together in the best possible way is a key economic problem. Professor Roth’s research is aimed at improving real world market interaction. Through empirical studies and lab experiments, Roth and his colleagues demonstrated that stability was critical to successful matching methods. Roth used this principal to develop systems for matching doctors with hospitals, school pupils with schools, and organ donors with patients. In his lecture, Professor Roth will explore the fascinating world of applied game theory, encouraging his audience to think differently about everyday markets.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Competitive college admissions gets yet more competitive, as students apply to more schools

The NY Times has the story: Led by Stanford’s 5%, Top Colleges’ Acceptance Rates Hit New Low

"Enrollment at American colleges is sliding, but competition for spots at top universities is more cutthroat and anxiety-inducing than ever. In the just-completed admissions season, Stanford University accepted only 5 percent of applicants, a new low among the most prestigious schools, with the odds nearly as bad at its elite rivals.

"Deluged by more applications than ever, the most selective colleges are, inevitably, rejecting a vast majority, including legions of students they once would have accepted. Admissions directors at these institutions say that most of the students they turn down are such strong candidates that many are indistinguishable from those who get in.
"Bruce Poch, a former admissions dean at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., said he saw “the opposite of a virtuous cycle at work” in admissions. “Kids see that the admit rates are brutal and dropping, and it looks more like a crapshoot,” he said. “So they send more apps, which forces the colleges to lower their admit rates, which spurs the kids next year to send even more apps.”

"For most of the past six decades, overall enrollment boomed, while the number of seats at elite colleges and universities grew much more slowly, making them steadily more selective. Enrollment peaked in 2011, and it has dropped a bit each year since then, prompting speculation that entry to competitive colleges would become marginally easier. Instead, counselors and admissions officers say, the pool of high-achieving applicants continues to grow, fed partly by a rising number from overseas.

"At the same time, students send more applications than they once did, abetted by the electronic forms that have become nearly universal, and uniform applications that can make adding one more college to the list just a matter of a mouse click. Seven years ago, 315 colleges and universities accepted the most widely used form, the Common Application; this year, 517 did.

"Students applying to seven or more colleges made up just 9 percent of the applicant pool in 1990, but accounted for 29 percent in 2011, according to surveys by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and counselors and admissions officers say they think the figure has gone higher still.
"A generation ago, it was rare for even highly competitive colleges to offer places to fewer than 20 percent of their applicants. In 2003, Harvard and Princeton drew exclamations of dismay (from prospective applicants), envy (from other colleges) and satisfaction (from those they accepted) when they became the first top universities to have their admission rates dip below 10 percent. Since then, at least a dozen have gone below that threshold.

"This was the second year in a row that Stanford had the worst odds of admission among top colleges, a title that in previous years was usually claimed by Harvard. This year, by the April 1 deadline for most colleges to send admission notices, Harvard and Yale had accepted about 6 percent of applicants, Columbia and Princeton about 7 percent, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago about 8 percent. (Some rates will increase by a few tenths of a percentage point as colleges accept small numbers of applicants from waiting lists.)

"Several universities, including Stanford, Duke, Northwestern, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania, had admission rates this year that were less than half of those from a decade ago. The University of Chicago’s rate plummeted to a little over 8 percent, from more than 40 percent."