Thursday, August 16, 2018

An open marketplace for reinsurance

Tremor Technologies Inc. has announced its new online marketplace for reinsurance.  Here's the press release:

Tremor Technologies, Inc., a venture-backed startup based in Greenwich, CT, has announced that its programmatic risk placement marketplace is fully operational with significant buyers and sellers of reinsurance protection in place.

And here's an article with a little more detail:

Tremor opens programmatic marketplace for reinsurance risk placement
by ARTEMIS on AUGUST 14, 2018

"The company has venture capital backing and has been developing its technology platform and building a team of marketplace design experts* for two years now, with the resulting smart market now available.
"Peter Cramton, Tremor’s Chief Economist and a recognised international expert on auction theory and practice, as well as market design, commented, “We maximize value for both sides of the market and then fairly share that value among participants with competitive clearing prices.”

*full disclosure--I'm on Tremor's advisory board.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Why aren't clearinghouses used in college admissions?

I recently had an email from  Professor Deepak Hegde, at NYU's Stern School who asked me a question that led to the following exchange (edited for brevity and reproduced with his permission):

"Why are admission decisions in a broader set of settings (e.g., Phd applicants-programs, MBA applicants-to-business schools and so on)  not cleared through matching programs as is done with medical schools and residency applicants (or in some cases public schools matching)?   Are there a general set of conditions that one could develop to understand the contexts in which the matching algorithm that have helped advance could be implemented effectively?"

I replied as follows:

"I certainly don’t have a complete answer, but one obvious piece is that setting up a centralized clearinghouse for a whole market involves getting a lot of parties to coordinate and cooperate.  So I would guess that MBA admissions have a better chance of getting organized than, say Ph.D. admissions, since MBA programs are more alike one another than are Ph.D. programs (e.g. in Physics and Philosophy, or Chemistry and Chinese).

"And since wide scale cooperation is hard, I think it mostly happens in market in which people are very dis-satisfied with the existing system, and not just somewhat irritated.

"Is it your sense that MBA admissions is in a crisis of some sort?"

His reply: "In my assessment ... MBA admissions is not facing such a crisis, yet."

So...I think the MBA Match isn't something we'll hear about in the near future.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Dealing with shortages of deceased donors in a future with fewer automobile accidents

Sometimes you find out that someone has already worried about something that you haven't even thought of worrying about.  I worry about some aspects of transplantation, and I sometimes think about driverless cars, but here's an article about a worry that is nowhere near the top of my list.  However the short article below (it's a comment on another article) raises some interesting points about how society may want to rethink increasing organ donation as we see (I hope) ever fewer deaths from automobile accidents:

How Do You Donate Life When People Are Not Dying: Transplants in the Age of Autonomous Vehicles

Zoe Corin, Roee Furman, Shira Lifshitz, Ophir Samuelov & Dov Greenbaum (2018) , The American Journal of Bioethics, 18:7, 27-29, DOI: 10.1080/15265161.2018.1478024

"While there are differences of opinion as to when autonomous or self-driving cars will actually invade our roads—some car manufacturers are predicting consumer-ready self-driving cars as early as 2021—there is broad consensus that their inevitability is assured. And while there are clear positive social consequences that will result from self-driving cars and trucks, there are also a number of often less appreciated negative externalities. Balanced against the saved lives, minimized commutes, reduction in pollution, and general decrease in daily stress are the driving-related job losses and the reality that there will be fewer organ donors."
"There are no quick fixes, and current laws already place significant restrictions on the organ acquisition process. Buying and selling organs is nearly universally objectionable, unethical, and illegal (Ludin 2008). Some countries even ban any benefit, or any form of valuable consideration whatsoever, in exchange for an organ (Caulfield et al. 2014
Caulfield, T.E. NelsonB. Goldfeldt, and S.Klarenbach2014Incentives and organ donation: what’s (really) legal in Canada?Canadian Journal of Kidney Health and Disease 1: 7.[Crossref][PubMed], [Google Scholar]). Some jurisdictions go even beyond this altruistic-only donor requirement, and allow live donations only among blood relatives (India 1994Government of India. 1994. Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994.http://wwwmedindianet/tho/thobill1asp. [Google Scholar]).
"However, even these universal attitudes have some specific exceptions: In many countries, blood donors are paid, and sperm and egg donors can receive thousands of dollars in remuneration. But just because a handful of tissue donations have been commodified (albeit sometimes obfuscated as gifts with financial consideration), it is not clear that this cash for contribution system will expand anytime soon to include other types of living donations, such as liver lobes or kidneys. To wit: While New York sperm donors can make more than a thousand dollars a month (Lewinnov 2016
Lewinnov, T201610 things to know about being a sperm donor, New York Times, Nov. 3 2016. [Google Scholar]), surrogacy contracts are still void and unenforceable by law (New York 2014New York. 2014. N.Y. Dom. REL. Law §§ 121-124 Surrogate Parenting Contracts Organ Donation and Recovery Improvement Act (2004). [Google Scholar]).
Nevertheless, in light of the need for organs, a number of jurisdictions have tried to indirectly incentivize donation, either through financial or non-financial mechanisms. Such incentives include paying for funeral costs of non-living donors, or for the out-of-pocket expenses directly associated with transplantation (US 2004)."

Monday, August 13, 2018

The King and Lloyd (in special issue of Games and Economic Behavior in Honor of Lloyd Shapley)

Games and Economic Behavior has published a
Volume 108, Pages 1-614 (March 2018)

The first paper in the special issue is this Introduction

Introduction to the special issue in honor of Lloyd Shapley: Eight topics in game theory

Pages 1-12
Download PDF
David's introduction concludes with "Some remembrances of Lloyd," by various authors.  Here is mine: 

The King and Lloyd
By Alvin E. Roth

My first long conversation with Lloyd was when I visited him in 1974, having just finished my Ph.D. dissertation. I made what felt like a pilgrimage to see him at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, to tell him about my work.  

My last long conversations with Lloyd were in December, 2012, when we both attended the Nobel Prize celebrations in Stockholm. A careful observer might have noted that we had both aged a little since our first meeting. Lloyd walked with a cane, and that led to a small bit of logistics.

When you receive the Nobel from the King of Sweden, the King presents you with two packages, containing the diploma and the medal, which you hold with your left hand so that the two of you can shake hands. Lloyd was concerned about how he would manage this with his cane, and so we agreed that I would walk with him and hold his cane while he received the packages and shook hands, and return it to him immediately afterwards. Hence the picture below.

A subsequent encounter with the King had a touch of game theory. The night after the awards ceremony (and a very big dinner party in the City Hall) there is another dinner party in the royal palace, followed by a reception. At some point Lloyd was fatigued and ready to return to the hotel. But royal protocol dictates that no one should leave before the King, and that when the King leaves the party is over, and everyone leaves. So if the King had been told that one of his guests of honor was ready to go home, he would have felt obliged to depart and end the party to make this possible. To avoid ending the party prematurely, Lloyd therefore exited through the kitchen with the help of palace staff, without passing by the King and without alerting him and disrupting the party.  I thought it very appropriate that he exited with this small game-theoretic flourish.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

How storks became non-kosher

When I speak about repugnant transactions--transactions that some people would like to engage in but others think they shouldn't--I don't normally include dietary restrictions of a religious sort, like those which make food kosher or hallal (or vegetarian or vegan) since those restrictions are normally applied by people to themselves, not to others.  Thus most observant Jews don't think that non-Jews should keep kosher, and many vegetarians think that what you eat is a matter of personal preference.

However, within a religious community, what is allowed can be a matter of public discussion.  Haaretz has a (late breaking) account of the discussion of storks, in medieval Spain.  Perhaps storks aren't kosher because of a translation error?

How Rashi Got the Jews to Stop Eating Storks
A young rabbi in medieval Spain, scandalized by local laxness, sparks a bitter battle over bird on the plate
By Elon Gilad Jul 30, 2018

"During the second half of the 11th century, Rashi labored on his commentary of the Bible and the Babylonian Talmud, which became and still are highly influential. It was in these that Rashi identified the khasida with the stork, apparently for the first time.

Rashi could not read Arabic and was thus cut off from the traditions of the Geonim. He based his commentary of the oral tradition he received from his teachers, and his own power of logic.

With regard to the identity of the 20 unclean birds listed in the Bible, Rashi apparently did not receive a precise identification of each one. He writes in his commentary that the anafa, the bird coming right after the khasida in the list, was a heron - “I think.”

He may have been more certain regarding the khasida, since he doesn’t qualify that its identification was based on conjecture, but it probably was.
The influence of Rashi’s commentaries was immense. Once Rashi identified the khasida with the stork, this became the traditional view among European Jews with in just a few generations. Over time this tradition spread throughout the Jewish world, and into Christian vernacular translations of the Bible.

The identification of the khasida with the stork began to spread throughout Spanish Jewry as we have seen with the arrival of Asher ben Jehiel and his family at the turn of the 14th century, and Spanish Jews gradually stopped eating the bird.

When the Jews of Spain were expelled in 1492, they took the ban on stork to Jewish communities throughout the Arabic-speaking world, and these communities too stopped eating storks. Eventually all Jews accepted Rashi’s identification of the biblical khasida with the stork and today all Jews accept that storks are not kosher."

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Presumed consent: too early to declare failure, but cautions are plentiful

Frank McCormick points out a recent report in the journal Health Policy indicating that the Welsh move from opt-in to opt-out or ('deemed consent') for deceased organ donation has not so far been successful at raising transplant rates:

Welsh 2013 deemed consent legislation falls short of expectations
by Jordan Alexander Parsons

"Abstract: Wales, in 2013, was the first country in the United Kingdom to pass legislation introducing presumed (or deemed) consent for organ donation, and remains the only one. It was introduced in an attempt to increase the number of life-saving transplants taking place in the UK, in a move that policy makers hoped would mirror Spain’s success. More recently, pressure has been mounting for England to follow suit, with a public consultation currently in progress. However, the Welsh system has been far from a success, raising the question of why campaigners are so adamant that it should be replicated. Before the Welsh Government introduced the Human Transplantation (Wales) Act there had been no strong evidence to suggest it would make a difference, with countries boasting both high organ donation rates and presumed consent legislation demonstrating no clear causal relationship between the two facts. In addition, a recent report evaluating the Act has highlighted its failure to improve donation rates, and has even presented some potentially concerning statistics that may suggest a negative impact. This paper first considers presumed consent in other countries – Spain and Brazil – before illustrating the underwhelming progression of Wales’ new system and the need to look to other options."

Here's a paragraph that strikes me as important, because family consent is important in Wales, and automatic inclusion on the deceased donor registry reduces the signal value that the deceased wished to be a donor:

"Under the Welsh system, the deceased is deemed to have consented to donation unless (1) a decision as to donation by the deceased is in force, (2) the deceased had appointed a person or persons to make the decision on their behalf, or (3) a relative of friend of long standing objects on the basis of views held by the deceased and it is reasonable to assume the objection is accurate [2]. It is down to the medical team to determine whether a relative’s objection is their own, or one based on the views of the deceased. Unsurprisingly, doctors have not shown willing to challenge these objections, despite their legal right to; they consider it inappropriate to go against the wishes of the family."

Here is a related article, which raises other potential problems:
Presumed consent will not automatically lead to increased organ donation
Sharif, Adnan
Kidney International , Volume 94 , Issue 2 , 249 - 251

"a review of the latest available data (2016) from the Global Observatory on Donation and Transplantation suggests no significant difference in overall transplantation activity between presumed versus explicit consent countries, with increased deceased organ donor rates balanced by decreased living donor rates among presumed consent countries (Table 1). Whether the consent process is presumed or explicit has no bearing on many inter-related factors that influence organ donation rates. For example, Coppen et al.4 observed a strong correlation between mortality rates and organ donation numbers (Spearman’s r = 0.81, P < 0.01) and that, after controlling for differences in relevant mortality rates, there was no significant influence of presumed versus explicit consent on organ donation rates."

Table 1 Organ donation and transplantation activity
ParameterPresumed consent (mean ± SD per million population)Explicit consent (mean ± SD per million population)P value
Kidney (deceased)30.9 ± 15.122.6 ± 11.10.078
Kidney (living)4.8 ± 2.616.9 ± 8.4<0 .001="" td="">
Liver (deceased)12.9 ± 8.510.1 ± 5.30.265
Liver (living)0.4 ± 0.92.7 ± 5.30.107
Heart4.8 ± 3.53.1 ± 2.60.108
Lung3.5 ± 4.04.2 ± 2.80.543
Pancreas1.6 ± 1.61.4 ± 1.00.579
Overall transplant activity59.1 ± 30.758.9 ± 23.40.982

Friday, August 10, 2018

Blockchains, smart contracts, and incomplete contracts (and Prysm Group, a startup consulting firm on all that)

There's a lot of talk lately about smart contracts, i.e. contracts written in executable code, but less talk about how all contracts are incomplete (and therefore subject to renegotiation, dispute resolution and issues of residual control), a subject for which Oliver Hart won a recent Nobel.

So I was glad to see this article in Forbes:

Nobel Prize Winner Joins Blockchain Startup To Fix Smart Contracts
by Michael del Castillo

"Long before blockchain was cool, Nobel Prize-winning economist Oliver Hart was into contracts. As far back as 1976, the doctor of economics from Princeton University had been exploring how corporations use contracts to interact, and what happens when things go wrong."

The article is sparked by the fact that Oliver and Preston McAfee, who recently retired from being Chief Economist at Microsoft, have become advisors to a startup consulting company called Prysm Group, which aims to advise blockchain companies about contracts, incentives, and economics generally.

Here's the press release:

"Prysm Group provides blockchain organizations with counsel in the complex economic fields of contract theory, market design, game theory, and social choice."

The founders of Prysm Group are two economists who I met when they were graduate students at Harvard, Cathy Barrera and Stephanie Hurder (who I've blogged about before, here, and here).

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Welfare in a behavioral world

This is a behavioral economics intensive week at Stanford, with the experimental SITE session just ended, and the Psychology and Economics session underway.

There are a lot of hard problems in behavioral economics: in some senses, it's harder to figure out what people may do if we aren't perfectly rational. But a particular problem is how we should take care of each other, if it isn't always clear how to evaluate someone's welfare.

For example, we had two talks in the earlier SITE session on paternalism--under what circumstances can we make people better off by giving someone else the power to make choices for them?  More generally, if people aren't always good at making choices, how can we tell what's good for them, i.e. how can we evaluate welfare?

Doug Bernheim and Dmitry Taubinsky tackle this question in a chapter in the forthcoming

Handbook  of  Behavioral  Economics,  Volume  1, edited by B.  Douglas  Bernheim,  Stefano  DellaVigna,  and  David  Laibson.

You can find it here as an NBER working paper:

Behavioral Public Economics
B. Douglas Bernheim, Dmitry Taubinsky
NBER Working Paper No. 24828
Issued in July 2018

"This chapter surveys work in behavioral public economics, emphasizing the normative implications of non-standard decision making for the design of welfare-improving and/or optimal policies. We highlight combinations of theoretical and empirical approaches that together can produce robust qualitative and quantitative prescriptions for optimal policy under a range of assumptions concerning consumer behavior. The chapter proceeds in four parts. First, we discuss the foundations and methods of behavioral welfare economics, focusing on choice-oriented approaches and the measurement of self-reported well-being. Second, we examine commodity taxes and related policies: we summarize research on optimal corrective taxes, the efficiency costs of sales taxes that are not fully salient, the distributional effects of sin taxes, the use of non-price policies such as nudges, the tax treatment of giving, and luxury taxes. Third, we examine policies affecting saving, including capital income taxation, commitment opportunities, default contribution provisions for pension plans, financial education, and mandatory saving programs. Fourth, we detail the manner in which under-provision of labor supply and misunderstandings of policy instruments impact optimal labor income taxation and social insurance. We close with some recommendations for future work in behavioral public economics."

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Repugnant prediction markets on a blockchain (Augur)

Augur is a decentralized (i.e. unmoderated) prediction market, built on a blockchain.  Somewhere there is a fundamental law of internet that says that anonymity leads to bad manners, and for a prediction market, that means death pools.

Here's the story from CCN, a news service that focuses on cryptocurrencies and blockchains:

Assassination Markets Let Augur Users Gamble on Trump Murder

"this market exists, and, though not the most popular bet on Augur, more than 50 shares have been traded on it as of the time of writing. Similar markets, moreover, exist for a number of other public figures, allowing users to gamble on whether 96-year-old actress Betty White and U.S. Senator John McCain — who has been diagnosed with brain cancer — will survive until Jan. 1, 2019."

Earlier, see

Monday, September 7, 2009


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Deceased donor chains: Market design language is entering transplantation

Here's some more argument in favor of starting kidney chains with deceased donors, from the journal
Clinical Transplantation Volume 32, Issue 7:

Lessons from Uber and Airbnb: Why we should link the deceased and living donor pools

by Avi Baskin  Ariella Maghen  Tom Mone  Jeffrey Veale

"Deceased donor organs are currently underutilized and undervalued, particularly in kidney chains, similar to how parked cars and vacant homes were before Uber and Airbnb. The ride‐sharing company Uber has been hailed for allowing people to drive their cars to generate more benefit from this underutilized resource. Similarly, Airbnb enables people to rent out their unused property, increasing the potential of an otherwise missed opportunity. Together, Uber and Airbnb represent a new era, amplifying the benefit of cars and property that would be otherwise underused.

"Likewise, the world of transplantation should take note as software programs and mathematical algorithms could also be applied to maximize the benefits of available kidneys for transplant."

The authors are all transplant professionals, not an economist among them. We've come a long way from the days when it was hard to convince the transplant community that kidney transplantation, and kidney exchange in particular, could be usefully thought about in connection with markets, marketplaces, and market design.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Experimental economics at Stanford SITE, Aug 6-7

Here's the program:

Session 4: Experimental Economics

August 6 - 7, 2018
Organized by:
  • Lucas Coffman, Harvard University
  • Christine Exley, Harvard  Business School
  • Muriel Niederle, Stanford University
  • Alvin Roth, Stanford University
  • Lise Vesterlund, University of Pittsburgh
This session is being held in the Koret Room of the John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Building, 366 Galvez Street (SIEPR) Next to the Economics Building
This workshop will be dedicated to advances in experimental economics combining laboratory and field-experimental methodologies with theoretical and psychological insights on decision-making, strategic interaction and policy. We invite papers in lab experiments, field experiments and their combination that test theory, demonstrate the importance of psychological phenomena, and explore social and policy issues. In addition to senior faculty members, invited presenters will include junior faculty as well as graduate students.


Aug 6 |
9:20 am to 9:50 am

The Myth of the Male Negotiator: Gender’s Effect on Negotiation Strategies and Outcomes

Presented by: Connie Low, University of Pennsylvania
Co-Author(s): Jennie Huang, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School
Aug 6 |
9:50 am to 10:20 am

Gender Differences in Alternating-Offer Bargaining: An Experimental Study

Presented by: Nagore Iriberri, University of the Basque Country
Co-Author(s): Inigo Hernandez-Arenaz, University of Balearic Islands
Aug 6 |
11:00 am to 11:30 am

Beliefs About Behavioral Responses to Taxation

Presented by: Bertil Tungodden, NHH Norwegian School of Economics
Co-Author(s): Alexander W. Cappelen, NHH Norwegian School of Economics; Ingar Haaland, NHH Norwegian School of Economics
Aug 6 |
11:30 am to 12:00 pm

The Welfare Effects of Social Recognition: Theory and Evidence from the YMCA

Presented by: Dmitry Taubinsky, University of California, Berkeley
Co-Author(s): Robert Metcalfe, Boston University; Luigi Butera, University of Chicago
Aug 6 |
12:00 pm to 12:30 pm

Heterogeneity of Experimental Findings: Forecasts and Evidence

Presented by: Stefano DellaVigna, University of California, Berkeley
Co-Author(s): Devin Pope, University of Chicago, Booth School of Business
Aug 6 |
2:00 pm to 2:30 pm

Why Do Some Clearinghouses Yield Stable Outcomes? Experimental Evidence on Out-of-Equilibrium Truth-Telling

Presented by: Clayton Featherstone, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School
Co-Author(s): Colin Sullivan, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School; Eric Mayefsky, Quora
Aug 6 |
2:30 pm to 3:00 pm

Protective Paternalism

Presented by: Sandro Ambuehl, University of Toronto
Aug 6 |
3:30 pm to 4:00 pm


Presented by: Muriel Niederle
Aug 6 |
4:00 pm to 4:15 pm

Gender Preferences for Competition: Children versus Parents

Presented by: Jonas Tungodden, University of California, Berkeley
Aug 6 |
4:15 pm to 4:30 pm

Revealed Privacy Preferences: Are Privacy Choices Rational?

Presented by: Yi-Shan Lee, University of Zurich
Co-Author(s): Roberto Weber, University of Zurich
Aug 6 |
5:00 pm to 5:15 pm

The Thrill of the Deal: Quantifying the Price of Perceived Discounts and Mark-Ups

Presented by: Jennie Huang, University of Pennsylvania
Aug 6 |
5:15 pm to 5:30 pm

Social Comparisons in Peer Effects

Presented by: Seung-Keun Martinez, Univeristy of California, San Diego
Aug 6 |
5:30 pm to 5:45 pm

It Takes Two: Gender Differences in Group Work

Presented by: Siri Isaksson, Harvard University
Aug 7 |
9:20 am to 9:50 am

Can Individuals Satisfice Under Selected Information? an Experimental Investigation

Presented by: Daniel Fragiadakis, Texas A&M University
Co-Author(s): Alex Brown, Texas A&M University
Aug 7 |
9:50 am to 10:20 am

Belief Formation Under Signal Correlation

Presented by: Tanjim Hossain, University of Toronto
Co-Author(s): Ryo Okui, New York University, Shanghai
Aug 7 |
11:00 am to 11:30 am

Do People Avoid Morally Relevant Information? Evidence from the Refugee Crisis

Presented by: Eleonora Freddi, Tilburg University
Aug 7 |
11:30 am to 12:00 pm

Paying People to Look at How Sausage is Made

Presented by: Daylian Cain, Yale University
Co-Author(s): Jason Dana, Yale University; Bethany Burum, Harvard University
Aug 7 |
12:00 pm to 12:30 pm

Do Markets Undermine Morality?

Presented by: Björn Bartling, University of Zurich
Co-Author(s): Ernst Fehr, University of Zurich; Yagiz Özdemir, University of Zurich
Aug 7 |
2:00 pm to 2:30 pm

Spin Doctors

Presented by: Peter Schwardmann, University of Munich
Co-Author(s): Marvin Deversi, University of Munich; Alessandro Ispano, University of Cergy Pontoise
Aug 7 |
2:30 pm to 3:00 pm

How Do People Choose Between Biased Information Sources? Evidence from a Laboratory Experiment

Presented by: Sevgi Yuksel, University of California, Santa Barbara
Aug 7 |
3:30 pm to 4:00 pm

Heterogeneity of Loss Aversion and Expectations-Based Reference Point

Presented by: Charlie Sprenger, University of California, San Diego
Co-Author(s): Lorenz Goette, University of Bonn; Thomas Graeber, University of Bonn; Alexander Kellog, University of California, San Diego
Aug 7 |
4:00 pm to 4:15 pm

Self-Control, Uncertainty, and Commitment

Presented by: Veena Jeevanandam Blume, University of California, San Diego
Aug 7 |
4:15 pm to 4:30 pm

Preferences for the Resolution of Uncertainty and the Timing of Information

Presented by: Kirby Nielsen, Ohio State University
Aug 7 |
5:00 pm to 5:15 pm

Coordination in the Network Minimum Game

Presented by: Johannes Hoelzemann, University of New South Wales Business School
Co-Author(s): Hongyi Li, University of New South Wales Business School
Aug 7 |
5:15 pm to 5:30 pm

New Experimental Evidence on Expectations Formation

Presented by: Yueran Ma, Harvard University
Co-Author(s): Augustin Landier, HEC Paris; David Thesmar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Aug 7 |
5:30 pm to 5:45 pm

Inattentive Inference

Presented by: Thomas Graeber, University of Bonn

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Two bills aimed at increasing the number of transplants

The Niskanen Center has a post on two proposed pieces of legislation (together with some thoughts on why incremental policy oriented work is important):


Here's the  first paragraph of their article, and the  last.

"Last week, the Organ Donation Clarification Act was released by Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) with 14 cosponsors. The bill would clarify the National Organ Transplant Act’s (NOTA) definition of “valuable consideration,” making it clear that donors can be compensated for medical expenses and lost wages. It would also permit the U.S. government to run pilot programs to test the viability of noncash rewards to incentivize donors. And now this week, Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) has announced a set of amendments to NOTA that seek to orient the Health Resources and Services Administration toward increasing organ procurement, rather than simply distributing an inadequate supply."

"At the same time, the Niskanen Center’s overall mission eschews ideal theories in favor of pragmatic policy change. Thus, as much as I’d love to see someone like Al Roth appointed as the organ transplant czar, with a mandate to design an optimal market in organs, politics is a long game of persuasion and compromise. That’s why the two new bills from Reps. Cartwright and Rice remain immensely important, even if they don’t nearly go far enough."