Wednesday, December 12, 2018

MD4SG Colloquium: (Market Design for Social Good): tomorrow



I'll be speaking in the MD4SG Colloquium Series, online, tomorrow, Thursday, December 13th, 12-1:30 PM EST

Date: Thursday, December 13th, 12:00-1:30 PM EST
Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ku-ZRSB82SU. 

 

Market design is more complicated than mechanism design. And so is achieving good social outcomes.

Marketplaces are often small parts of large markets, and so potential marketplace participants may have large strategy sets, that include actions taken outside of the marketplace. And markets require social support, so the behavior of people who do not intend to participate in the market may nevertheless be important for market design. This talk will illustrate these points with some examples, drawing on experience from the design of school choice systems and kidney exchange clearinghouses.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The (private equity) market for dermatologists

Dermatology is a lucrative part of medicine, and private equity firms are buying medical practices, which has led to an unusual quarrel in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, involving corporate interests.

The NY Times has the story:
Why Private Equity Is Furious Over a Paper in a Dermatology Journal

"Early this month, a respected medical journal published a research paper on its website that analyzed the effects of a business trend roiling the field of dermatology: the rapid entrance of private equity firms into the specialty by buying and running practices around the country.

"Eight days later, after an outcry from private equity executives and dermatologists associated with private equity firms, the editor of the publication removed the paper from the site.
...
"Dermatologists account for one percent of physicians in the United States, but 15 percent of recent private equity acquisitions of medical practices have involved dermatology practices. Other specialties that have attracted private equity investment include orthopedics, radiology, cardiology, urgent care, anesthesiology and ophthalmology.
...
"This week a lawyer for Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, which is backed by private equity and is the largest dermatology practice in the United States, called the general counsel at the University of Florida, where two of the authors are employed, demanding specific changes to the paper."

Monday, December 10, 2018

Self regulation of black markets on the dark web?

Here's an interesting story from the Guardian, about some dark-web black markets in the U.K. banning fentanyl, as too deadly and (hence) too likely to attract vigorous police attention:

Dark web dealers voluntarily ban deadly fentanyl
Suppliers, fearing police crackdown, decide opioid is too high-risk to trade

"Major dark web drug suppliers have started to voluntarily ban the synthetic opioid fentanyl because it is too dangerous, the National Crime Agency has said.

"They are “delisting” the high-strength painkiller, effectively classifying it alongside mass-casualty firearms and explosives as commodities that are considered too high-risk to trade.
...
"Vince O’Brien, one of the NCA’s leads on drugs, told the Observer that dark web marketplace operators appeared to have made a commercial decision, because selling a drug that could lead to fatalities was more likely to prompt attention from police.

"It is the first known instance of these types of operators moving to effectively ban a drug.
...
"O’Brien said that the NCA is working with US law enforcement agencies to prevent the UK from having a similar fentanyl epidemic, though the number of people dependent on opioids in the UK compared to America means it has a much smaller market."

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Gabriel Weintraub's class on online marketplaces at Stanford GSB (winter quarter)

Gabriel Weintraub writes:


I am sharing this information in case some of you are interested on this new half-quarter PhD course I will be teaching this coming Winter:

OIT 648: Empirics of Online Markets
In this course we cover current research on the empirics of platforms and online marketplaces. We will study diverse topics relevant to the design of these markets such as search and matching, review and reputation systems, demand estimation, and pricing. We will do so in the context of different application domains such as rentals, sharing, e-commerce, labor markets, and advertising. The course will be eclectic in terms of approaches, using reduced-form and structural econometrics, machine learning, and experimentation. The course will mostly consist of recent papers presented by the instructor, guests, and students. Some background knowledge required to understand current work will be provided as needed.

The course will meet on the following Mondays between 3:30 and 6:20PM: 
- Mon. Feb 4
- Mon. Feb. 11
- Mon. Feb. 25
- Mon, Mar 4
- Mon. Mar 11
- Fri. Mar. 15

Saturday, December 8, 2018

School choice, an overview by the Center for American Progress

The Center for American Progress, a DC think tank, reviews school choice:
Expanding Access to High-Quality Schools
Implementing School Choice Algorithms

From the introduction:

"According to a 2017 analysis by the Brookings Institution, the proportion of large school districts that offered school choice doubled from 2000 through 2016.1 As a result, of the more than 50.1 million students nationwide who attended public schools over the 2015-16 school year, more than 2.8 million students attended public charter schools, and more than 2.6 million students attended magnet schools. Additional students attended other types of public schools of choice, such as those with specialty or thematic programs.
...
"A centralized system can simplify enrollment for both families and schools. Students apply through a single application, ranking a list of schools that they would like to attend and receiving a single offer to one of their preferred schools. However, system design matters when it comes to centralized enrollment. Depending on how a district assigns an offer for each student, some families can unfairly manipulate the system to make it more likely that their child secures a seat at a more in-demand, usually better-performing school.

To reduce this risk of strategic manipulation in centralized enrollment systems, Atila Abdulkadiroglu, Parag Pathak, Alvin E. Roth and Tayfun Sönmez—economists with expertise in game theory and market design—proposed a solution. They designed two fair and efficient matching algorithms—or a set of rules and calculations—to ensure that, given the preferences of all other students and schools in the system, each student receives a single offer with his or her best possible school match. Specifically, the economists designed two matching algorithms suitable for centralized assignment: deferred acceptance (DA) and top trading cycles (TTC)."

Friday, December 7, 2018

Congratulations to Eva Tardos, winner of the 2019 IEEE John von Neumann Medal

Congratulations to Eva Tardos.  The Communications of the ACM has the news:
Tardos to Receive von Neumann Medal

"Tardos was cited "For contributions to the field of algorithms, including foundational new methods in optimization, approximation algorithms, and algorithmic game theory."
...
"She will receive the Medal next May at the IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit and Awards Ceremony in San Diego, CA."

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Repugnance watch: pay toilets

Citylab reports:
Pay Toilets Are Illegal in Much of the U.S. They Shouldn't Be.
In the 1970s, many American cities and states banned pay toilets, but the vision of abundant free toilets for all never came to pass.
NOV 19, 2018, by Sophie House

"failures of sanitation are not confined to the developing world. In cities around the United States, groups from pregnant women to taxi drivers and people experiencing homelessness suffer from the lack of public restrooms. One solution common in European cities—the pay toilet, which charges a small fee for use—is largely absent from the American landscape, and in fact, is banned in many cities and states.
...
"In 1969, California Assemblywoman March Fong Eu smashed a porcelain toilet with an axe in front of the California state capitol, protesting the misogyny of restrooms that charged entrance fees for stalls but not urinals. She was not alone in her frustration. ...The grassroots organization CEPTIA—the Committee to End Pay Toilets in America—mobilized against pay toilets, putting out a quarterly newsletter (the Free Toilet Paper) and exchanging warring pamphlets with Nik-O-Lok, the leading pay-toilet manufacturer. The group won a citywide ordinance banning pay toilets in Chicago in 1973, followed by bans in Alaska, California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, and Wyoming.

In the decades since CEPTIA disbanded, however, pay-toilet bans have proven to be a Pyrrhic victory. The committee’s vision of free toilets for all never came to pass. Cities have persistently refused to construct public restrooms, and existing facilities have fallen into disrepair. Citing the difficulty of keeping bathrooms safe and clean, municipalities are often unwilling or unable to pay. ...

By contrast, in cities from Europe to India to Latin America, small entrance fees help to cover the costs of keeping facilities in good condition. Creating a similar revenue stream to defray operating costs would likely make pay toilets more attractive to U.S. municipalities. For example, fees could offset the costs of hiring restroom attendants—an excellent, but expensive, way to keep bathrooms safe. Pay toilets also redistribute the operating costs of restrooms. Free toilets are, of course, taxpayer-funded, while under pay-toilet schemes, tourists who use urban infrastructure also contribute to its functioning."

HT: Alex Tabarrok at MR