Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Organ donation in Germany has the story:
Nach langem Abwärtstrend, Zahl der Organspender deutlich gestiegen
(GT: After a long downward trend, the number of organ donors has increased significantly)

"Last year, 955 people left organs for other critically ill patients after their death, as the German Foundation for Organ Transplantation (DSO) announced. That was an increase of nearly 20 percent compared to 2017 with 797 donors and the first major increase since 2010.
"a discussion on new organ donation rules has started in parliament across parliamentary boundaries. So far, withdrawals are only allowed with expressly agreed consent, but many postpone the occupation with this topic again and again.

"Spahn is therefore campaigning for a "double contradiction solution" ["doppelte Widerspruchslösung"]. Accordingly, everyone is automatically considered a donor. One should be able to say no to this, otherwise - as a double barrier - relatives would have to be asked. In an open debate in the Bundestag at the end of November broad reservations against such a new regulation became clear.

"Instead, a group led by Greens leader Annalena Baerbock and left-leaning boss Katja Kipping suggests a mandatory recurring query, such as collecting new passports or identity cards - with the option of not yet deciding."

HT: Rosemarie Nagel

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Repugnance watch: what to do with a mass-murderer's gun collection?

The NY Times has the story:
A ‘Moral Dilemma’ After Las Vegas Massacre: Sell the Gunman’s Weapons, or Destroy Them

"When the gunman in the Las Vegas mass shooting died, he left behind a hoard of guns and firearm accessories in his two Nevada homes and the hotel suite he used as a perch for his attack.
"Now, the main lawyer involved in passing on Mr. Paddock’s nearly $1.4 million estate to the families of the 58 people he slaughtered at an outdoor country music festival is facing a quandary. Should the firearms be sold to raise as much money as possible for the bereaved, or would it be more appropriate to destroy the guns in an emblematic rejection of the kind of violence that Mr. Paddock carried out?
"Mr. Paddock died without a will. Lawyers for the victims encouraged Mr. Paddock’s mother — who, under Nevada law, became the heir by default — to give his assets to the estates of the 58 people killed by her son. The mother, Irene Hudson, transferred her right to inherit the estate in March of last year.

"In addition to those killed, hundreds of others were injured in the shooting. However, lawyers say the compensation should go to the loved ones of the dead rather than the injured, saying the money would have greater impact on their lives than if the large number of people hurt in the rampage were also beneficiaries.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Legal and illegal markets for marijuana in Canada

The Canadian newly legal market for marijuana is having trouble competing with the illegal market. It may be a question of design:

Canada legalized pot in October. But its black market is still going strong

"When the government launched Canada’s official recreational-pot market on Oct. 17, it was banking on the idea that many users would prefer to buy legally and that the black market would quickly begin to fade. It says things seem on track, with “early reports of a 65 percent reduction for illegally sourced products,” according to a spokeswoman for the minister in charge of the cannabis file.
But there are also signs things aren’t going as expected.
In a national poll Ipsos conducted for Global News a month after legalization, more than a third of Canadian cannabis users said they were still buying from their regular dealers and hadn’t even tried the legal system.  
"The government’s most jolting decision, illegal dealers here said, was to structure the new industry in a way that tended to bar them from it. In 2015, when the government first committed to legalization, many of them planned to apply to open private shops.
“All of us thought, ‘Okay . . . I’m going to be able to come out of the shadows and I’m going to be able to pay taxes,’ ” David said. “As time went on, it became clear that’s not what they were after.”
"In Quebec and several other Canadian provinces, all cannabis stores are government-run, leaving no path to legality for people like David, who has worked in the underground industry for more than a decade, operating his business full time for several years."

Sunday, January 13, 2019

College admissions: early decision stats for this season

The Washington Post looks in on early decision (and early action) college admissions:
Early applications surge at prestigious colleges. So does early heartache.

"Early applications have been expanding for years, but last month some big-name schools reported record-setting spikes. Totals were up 9 percent at Dartmouth College, 19 percent at Duke University, 21 percent at Brown University.
"Some counselors worry the trend is widening the divide between haves and have-nots because early application programs often require those admitted to enroll. That proviso, known as “early decision,” tends to help the affluent.
Many students need to compare financial aid offers and weigh whether to take out loans.
"Still, highly selective colleges and universities often fill a third to half of their first-year classes through early rounds — which makes the regular round even more competitive. To address equity concerns, schools typically pledge to give students in need the same financial aid they would have received if they had been admitted in the regular cycle."

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Non-transplant tissue banks

The Brown Political Review (a student publication at Brown University) takes a look at the lightly regulated market for cadavers and body parts for uses other than transplants:

Merchants of Death: The Thriving, Unregulated Body Brokerage Industry

"Cadavers are irreplaceable in both the training of new medical students and medical research. Companies that make medical products also rely heavily on human tissue. Many medical schools operate their own donation programs, which provide the majority of cadavers needed for their education and research. However, many other bodies are obtained from body brokers. These body brokers, also known as non-transplant tissue banks, serve as middlemen between the recently deceased and the market for cadavers. They solicit donations from patients or their families, dismember or otherwise process the bodies as required, and sell what remains to the highest bidders. Each part has a price: a foot may sell for $250, a head might fetch $1,000. For these businesses, bodies are raw materials to be harvested and sold to other institutions for further use."

Friday, January 11, 2019

Econometricians as engineers: Susan Athey on machine learning

At the recent ASSA/AEA meetings in Atlanta,Susan Athey presented the
AEA/AFA Joint Luncheon - The Impact of Machine Learning on Econometrics and Economics 
Susan Athey, Stanford University, introduced by Ben Bernanke, Brookings Institution

You can see the video of her talk here (and videos of other talks here).

She spoke about the complementarities between econometrics and machine learning. Much of the talk was about how economists interact with computer scientists and other kinds of data scientists in the role of tech-company engineers and market designers.  Here is a photo of her final slide.

(maybe easier to read below, taken from the video...)

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Repugnance watch: Illegal migration crisis? It's hard to see in the numbers

Listening to President Trump Tuesday night, there's no doubt that he thinks many Americans can be rallied around the idea of an illegal immigration crisis.

I'm no expert, but evidence for that crisis is hard to see, and not just in the border state I live in.  Here's a report through 2016 by the Center for Migration Studies.

The US Undocumented Population Fell Sharply During the Obama Era: Estimates for 2016
Robert Warren, Center for Migration Studies

In the myriad discussions of undocumented immigration over the past two years, two of the most significant and underreported facts are that: (1) after 2000, arrivals from Mexico dropped sharply, falling to their lowest levels since the 1970s; and (2) the total population, as well as the population of most of the states and countries of origin, are lower now than they were in 2010. This report provides evidence that the historic shift from growth to decline continued in 2016."