Sunday, August 2, 2020

Foie gras sale ban in CA doesn't rule out interstate commerce

The Mercury News has the lastest twist on the long running saga of foie gras in California:

Foie gras ruling puts it back on Californians’ plates, but not on restaurant menus
Delicacy can be sold, shipped by out-of-state producers; reselling it remains verboten

"Foie gras can again be legally shipped to Californians for consumption at home, according to a new ruling. But diners won’t find the fatty goose and duck livers back on restaurant menus.

"U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled Tuesday in Los Angeles that the sale of foie gras doesn’t violate the law if the seller is located outside of California and the product is brought into the state by a third-party delivery service, the Associated Press reported, adding that the California attorney general’s office is reviewing the decision.

"However, foie gras still can’t legally be resold — which means restaurant sales are prohibited, according to attorneys for both the plaintiffs and defendants.
"The issue of whether foie gras can be produced and/or sold in California had been simmering in courts for years.

California’s ban on the production and sale of foie gras (pronounced fwah grah) originally went into effect July 1, 2012, eight years after SB 1520 (by then-Sen. John Burton) was signed into law by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in 2004."

See all my posts on foie gras.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Arranged marriage, in India, on television

The Guardian and the Indian Express have the story about a tv show about arranged marriage, a venerable institution that is becoming controversial.

Here's the Guardian:

Indian Matchmaking: Netflix's 'divisive' dating show causes storm
Series following contestants hoping to be chosen for arranged marriage has divided opinion in India
by Hannah Ellis-Petersen

"For some, Indian Matchmaking represents an unacceptable normalising of the regressive standards forced on Indian women to in order to be seen as a “suitable” wife, while pushing the unspoken issue of caste under the carpet.
"The eight-part series follows Taparia as she attempts to find appropriate matches for clients both in India and across the world in order to set up arranged marriages, often on behalf of their client’s parents. It is a show set in a world of upper-class affluence, where Indian families can afford to hire Taparia’s expensive services and even fly her across the world to find them, or their children, a suitable match.

"Arranged marriage remains prevalent in India. As Taparia says in the show, arranged marriage is just described as “marriage” while it is “love marriage” that is spoken of as outside the norm. Newspapers are still full of matrimonial adverts where women are reduced to three-line descriptions of their “fair skinned”, “accomplished” or “modern yet traditional” attributes.

"Indian Matchmaking’s uncritical presentation of its clients’ “criteria” – usually fair-skinned women from a “good” family - has come in for particular criticism.

"Critics have said the show perpetuates damaging ideas around colourism and caste – the Hindu system of hierarchy, which rigidly designates someone’s class and social status. Dalits, India’s lowest class, still undergo rampant discrimination and abuse in society while the upper Brahmin caste hold much of the power and influence. Cross-caste marriage in India can get you killed.

“Indian Matchmaking is really a cesspool of casteism, colourism, sexism, classism,” wrote one Twitter user."

And here's the Indian Express:

Indian Matchmaking: An 8-episode of misguided gender politics, ultimately a betrayal for Indian audiences
By cherry picking its clients and assorting stories it wants to tell, by ticking boxes of caste, religion and class as imperative for an arranged alliance, Indian Matchmaking panders to the West gaze with complying obedience.
by Ishita Sengupta

"Positioned as an outlet to familiarise the world with a practice peculiar to India and Indians; the documentary could have been a first-hand exploration about the evolving origin of a cultural custom and the multifarious ways people go about it. And for millennials back home, it could affirm our rejection of a practice we long recognise as outdated or be a vehicle to convince us of its efficiency in a language we comprehend better than our parents’ monologues. But Indian Matchmaking dilutes an age-old practice by blunting the pointed shards on which it has stood for years. The end result is an eight-episode betrayal for the audience in India and a cut-to-fit documentary about the country and its traditions for the West, confirming every suspicion they nurtured.

"Created by Smriti Mundhra, who previously co-directed A Suitable Girl in 2017, it follows Sima Taparia, one of India’s top matchmakers as she visits her clientele spread across India and abroad. At the very outset, Taparia (“from Mumbai”) insists, “Matches are made in heaven and God has given me the job of making them successful on earth,” thereby placing herself beyond reproach. But in her job of a self-declared messiah (it is never shown how much she earns) intending to bring together people with the supposed divine connection, she falls back on caste, class, complexion, height and sometimes breadth of smiles as plausible criteria for two people to give each other a shot at spending their lives together."

And Livemint:

Opinion | What economic studies say about our marriage market
 29 Jul 2020,  by Anirudh Tagat
"A matchmaking show on Netflix seems to skim over the market deficiencies that scholars have studied in depth"

Friday, July 31, 2020

Australia-New Zealand kidney exchange program

New Zealand and Australia are cooperating with cross-border, international kidney exchange.

The Australian has the story:
The chain gang

"Facilitated by the Organ and Tissue Authority, the Australian and New Zealand Paired Kidney Exchange (ANZKX) has now given 42 people new kidneys since that first operation late last year. While paired kidney exchange has happened in Australia since 2010, this is the first true international collaboration. Eleven chains of operations occurred before Covid-19 stalled things in March, but recruitment into the program continues and there are six surgeries planned in Australia for August.
"[Linda] Cantwell is the ­Australian Red Cross ANZKX tissue typing scientist. She’s gatekeeper to the matrix of matches needed to link up potential pairs. There are currently 150 donors and 128 potential recipients in the pool, but for some people only one donor in 10,000 might be suitable. A computer program called OrganMatch runs the algorithms based on each person’s unique antibody profile and tissue typing, and potential matches from up to 300,000 different chains are produced."

And here's a related story from Australia's Daily Telegraph:

Organ donation hit hard by COVID-19 global pandemic
by Jane Hansen

"The Australian and New Zealand Paired Kidney Exchange was suspended from March 6 and can only begin if and when travel restrictions lift.

"Deceased kidney and live kidney donor programs across Australia were also suspended from March 24 and only recommenced in May, blowing out waitlists.

"Liver, heart, lung, paediatric and multi-organ transplant programs have continued but are subject to case-by-case review by the National Transplantation and Donation Rapid Response Taskforce, which meets weekly to discuss the response to COVID-19, the Organ and Tissue Authority said.

"According to the latest figures for 2019, the families of 548 loved ones transformed the lives of 1444 Australians by agreeing to organ donation.

"In 2019, 1309 had the potential to be organ donors but just over half of those families agreed."

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Surrogacy and global kidney exchange receive popular support even where banned, in PNAS by Roth and Wang

Popular repugnance contrasts with legal bans on controversial markets
Alvin E. Roth and  Stephanie W. Wang
PNAS first published July 29, 2020
reviewed by Nicola Lacetera and Mario Macis

Abstract: We study popular attitudes in Germany, Spain, the Philippines, and the United States toward three controversial markets—prostitution, surrogacy, and global kidney exchange (GKE). Of those markets, only prostitution is banned in the United States and the Philippines, and only prostitution is allowed in Germany and Spain. Unlike prostitution, majorities support legalization of surrogacy and GKE in all four countries. So, there is not a simple relation between public support for markets, or bans, and their legal and regulatory status. Because both markets and bans on markets require social support to work well, this sheds light on the prospects for effective regulation of controversial markets.

"Our main result is that (unlike prostitution) the laws banning surrogacy and GKE do not seem to reflect popular demand. Neither do these bans reflect that opponents of legalization feel more strongly than supporters.
"All three transactions are the subject of current debate in at least one of the countries we surveyed.¶¶ Based on the results of our surveys, we do not see entrenched popular resistance to either surrogacy or GKE (or simple kidney exchange) where it is presently illegal, and thus, we anticipate that efforts to lift or circumvent current restrictions are likely to be increasingly successful, while efforts to legalize or decriminalize prostitution where it is presently illegal may face greater opposition from the general public.

"Understanding these issues is important, not just for the hundreds of Spanish couples stranded outside of Spain while they look for a way to bring their surrogate children home and not just for the people in need of kidney exchange but for whom it is out of reach in Germany or in the Philippines. These issues are also of importance to social scientists in general and economists in particular. When markets enjoy social support, when they are banned, and when, in turn, bans are socially supported are questions that touch upon many transactions, particularly as social and economic interactions are increasingly globalized.

"Our findings suggest that the answer to these questions may not be found in general public sentiment in countries that ban markets or legalize them. Rather, we may have to look to the functioning of particular interested groups, perhaps with professional or even religious interests, that are able to influence legislation in the absence of strong views (or even interest) among the general public about the markets in question."

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Emmanuel Farhi 1978-2020

Emmanuel Farhi passed away last week, unexpectedly and tragically.  He was my colleague at Harvard, and we had recently sought to hire him at Stanford.  

Here's the Harvard Economics department memorial, which contains moving testimonials: 

This has been a hard year at Harvard, with four deaths in the department in the last 12 months.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Stanford campus in lockdown--pictures

Stanford is under-crowded in these coronavirus lockdown days of July...

Monday, July 27, 2020

JET Stanford

Here's an email sent yesterday by my department chair:

"It has belatedly come to my attention that the Journal of Economic Theory recently published a 50th anniversary issue, which included a collection of the 50 most influential papers included in the journal since its inception.  Nine of those papers included coauthors who are members of our department.  Special congratulations to Paul Milgrom, who coauthored four of them! 

Here are the Stanford-Econ-coauthored papers on the list (I REALLY hope I didn't overlook any -- if so, please let me know!): 

David Kreps, Paul Milgrom, John Roberts, and Robert Wilson, “Rational cooperation in the finitely repeated prisoners’ dilemma,” JET, August 1982. 
Paul Milgrom and John Roberts, “Predation, reputation, and entry deterrence,” JET, August 1982. 
Paul Milgrom and Nancy Stokey, “Information, trade and common knowledge,” JET, February 1982.   
B. Douglas Bernheim, Bezalel Peleg, and Michael Whinston, “Coalition-Proof Nash Equilibria I. Concepts,” JET, June 1987. 
Drew Fudenberg, Bengt Holmstrom, and Paul Milgrom, “Short-term contracts and long-term agency relationships,” JET, June 1990. 
Matthew Jackson and Asher Wolinsky, “A Strategic Model of Social and Economic Networks,” JET, October 1996. 
Matthew Jackson and Alison Watts, “The evolution of social and economic networks,” JET, October 2002. 
Larry Epstein and Martin Schneider, “Recursive multiple-priors,” JET, November 2003. 
Alvin Roth, Tayfun Sonmez, and M. Utku Unver, “Pairwise kidney exchange,” JET, December 2005. 



B. Douglas Bernheim
Edward Ames Edmonds Professor of Economics
Chair, Department of Economics"

And here is the full list of 50 papers: