Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Speaking about market design in Moscow (2 photos)

Where the red star is not a Christmas ornament...

Here I am at the Financial University

And here's a brief bio, in Russian:
Специалист по практическим приложения экономики
(Goog translate: Specialist in practical applications of the economy)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Alcott and Kessler on behavior and welfare changes from 'nudges"

An NBER working paper:

The Welfare Effects of Nudges: A Case Study of Energy Use Social Comparisons
Hunt Allcott, Judd B. Kessler
NBER Working Paper No. 21671
Issued in October 2015

"Nudge"-style interventions are typically evaluated on the basis of their effects on behavior, not social welfare. We use a field experiment to measure the welfare effects of one especially policy-relevant intervention, home energy conservation reports. We measure consumer welfare by sending introductory reports and using an incentive-compatible multiple price list to determine willingness-to-pay to continue the program. We combine this with estimates of implementation costs and externality reductions to carry out a comprehensive welfare evaluation. We find that this nudge increases social welfare, although traditional program evaluation approaches overstate welfare gains by a factor of five. To exploit significant individual-level heterogeneity in welfare gains, we develop a simple machine learning algorithm to optimally target the nudge; this would more than double the welfare gains. Our results highlight that nudges, even those that are highly effective at changing behavior, need to be evaluated based on their welfare implications.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Kidney Exchange: Algorithms and Incentives: video of my lecture at the Simons Institute

Here's a video (about an hour, with Q&A) of the talk I gave at the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, at Berkeley, on Monday Nov 16.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Making the market for medical marijuana a little less medical

The NY Times has a story on how easy it is to get a prescription for marijuana in states like California, where medical marijuana is legal but recreational marijuana is  not supposed to be:
Silicon Valley Tries to Alter Your Perception of Cannabis

"One morning in September, I logged on to the website of HelloMD, a medical start-up that promises to connect patients with doctors instantly over the Internet. I filled out my personal details, explained my ailment — I often get heartburn — and entered in my credit card number to cover the $50 consultation fee.

"Within 10 minutes, a pediatrician based near Washington who is licensed to practice medicine in my home state of California popped up on my screen. ...

"The doctor asked about my medical history, current symptoms and familiarity with certain medicines. The interview lasted about three minutes, after which she announced what everyone who visits HelloMD expects to hear: According to her diagnosis, my heartburn made me a candidate for medical marijuana, which has been legal in California since 1996."
Marijuana may eventually be legalized for recreational use in California (as it already is in Colorado, Oregon and the state of Washington). But the market isn't waiting for that:

Prescriptions: HelloMD: "Join and get a Doctor recommendation for medical marijuana. Fully Legal. 100% Online. Secure. Approved in 20 mins."

Find a medical dispensary: Weedmaps

Friday, November 20, 2015

Matchmaking among the Haredi

Ynet has a story: 
Ultra-orthodox matchmaking: everything it's best not to know

"Among the traditional Haredi public – not the modern stream, which has changed in recent years – pairing one's children is the exclusive responsibility of parents. No yeshiva boy is supposed to choose a girl himself. When parents think the time is right, the phase known as "starting to listen" begins – that is, taking suggestions and statements from matchmakers. For the Hasidim it happens around the age of 18, sometimes even younger. For Lithuanians and Sephardim, it's around the age of 20.

"During this stage parents approach matchmakers, tell them about their son or daughter and specify what they are seeking for their child. Finally, much like in the job market, they give the names of their relatives, neighbors and teachers who can provide those interested with "recommendations," or simply additional details.

"When the two sides feel that the stats are good, a meeting between the couple will be arranged. In most Haredi communities the couple will meet a maximum of three times before they become engaged. In the more devout Hasidic communities, the strict rules permit only one meeting, lasting about 20 minutes. The rationale: they will probably develop feelings, and feelings are bad for business.
"Haya, a neighbor of mine, got hitched to a match 38 years ago and is still married. To the same man. Eight out of her 15 children got married in the same way. "We aren't looking for love," she tells me. "We don't marry because I love you or you love me. We have a common goal – to build a home in Israel – and we work together in order to achieve that aim."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Two public lectures today in Vancouver

Two lectures, two different topics (with a little overlap:). If you're in Vancouver...

At UBC: Woodward Lecture Series: Repugnant Transactions
19 November 2015 12:30-2:00 pm
MATH Building, Room 100
"The Vancouver School of Economics is very pleased to host Nobel Laureate Alvin Roth for a free lecture entitled “Repugnant Transactions”.

AT SFU Economics: BMO Public Lecture: 
 Who Gets What and Why: The Economics of Life Choices from School Admissions to Kidney Exchange
1200 Event Room, Segal School of Business (SFU Vancouver)
500 Granville St., Vancouver
Time: 7:00 PM , Thursday, November 19, 2015
"You participate in many more markets than you may realize. From school admissions to kidney exchanges, markets are all around us - even when no money exchanges hands. Alvin Roth, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics, explains the economics of hidden markets and how market design can help fix broken markets, and create new ones. Professor Roth will explore how we can make better decisions by matching our desires in a marketplace."