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


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

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Would government compensation of kidney donors help or hurt the poor?

Here's an article in PLOS ONE that asks a question whose answer is often simply assumed by those who oppose compensation for kidney donors:

Would government compensation of living kidney donors exploit the poor? An empirical analysis
Philip J. Held  , Frank McCormick , Glenn M. Chertow, Thomas G. Peters, John P. Roberts
Published: November 28, 2018

"Government compensation of kidney donors would likely increase the supply of kidneys and prevent the premature deaths of tens of thousands of patients with kidney failure each year. The major argument against it is that it would exploit the poor who would be more likely to accept the offers of compensation. This overlooks the fact that many poor patients desperately need a kidney transplant and would greatly benefit from an increased supply of kidneys. The objective of this study is to empirically test the hypothesis that government compensation of kidney donors would exploit the poor. Exploitation is defined by economists and several noted ethicists as paying donors less than the fair market value of their kidney. Exploitation is expressed in monetary terms and compared with the economic benefit recipients receive from a transplant. Data are from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients and the United States Renal Data System annual data reports. Educational attainment is used as a proxy for income. We estimate that if the government rewards living donors with a package of non-cash benefits worth $75,000 per kidney, donors would not be exploited. Much more important, this compensation would likely end the kidney shortage, enabling many more patients with kidney failure to obtain transplants and live longer and healthier lives. The value of kidney transplantation to a U.S. recipient is about $1,330,000, which is an order of magnitude greater than any purported exploitation of a living donor (zero to $75,000). Consequently, the aggregate net benefit to the poor alone from kidney transplantation would increase to about $12 billion per year from $1 billion per year currently. Most of the benefit would accrue to poor kidney recipients. But poor donors would receive the fair market value of their kidney, and hence would not be exploited. If the government wanted to ensure that donors also received a net benefit, it could easily do so by increasing the compensation above $75,000 per donor."

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Feeding America: Podcast on HBS case study of Canice Prendergast and Feeding America

Here's an audio interview of Canice Prendergast and Scott Kominers (who wrote the HBS case study) about the work that Prendergast and colleagues did with a team from Feeding America, which manages a network of more than 200 food banks nationwide.

The podcast is here: Building a Nonprofit Marketplace to Feed America

Prendergast says at one point: "The dynamic of the group was wonderful. I think one of the amazing things about this committee was essentially the length of time we got to listen to each other. I think if it has turned out to be a success, the reason was largely because of the willingness not of the academics to listen to the practitioners, but actually the practitioners to listen to the academics. This was a long way removed from anything that they imagined they would do when we started."

You can read the whole transcript by clicking on "Read More" at the bottom of the page linked above.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Arrow Lecture at Columbia (video): Market design (with discussion by Parag Pathak and Joe Stiglitz)

Here's a video of the lecture I gave on Columbia on November 8, in honor and in memory of Ken Arrow. My title was "Market Design in Large Worlds: The Example of Kidney Exchange."
My discussants were Parag Pathak and Joe Stiglitz, and you can see them too.
I used slides (and so did Parag), but they don't seem to have made it fully onstage in the video.  But the audio is good, and you can see how good looking we all are...

The theme of my talk is that one big lesson of market design is that participants have big strategy sets, and this has implications for, among other things, how marketplaces need to be adaptively maintained.  One of Parag's examples in his discussion is how more NYC schools have begun to screen students since more effective choice was introduced, and how this may sometimes work against the goals that increased choice was intended to achieve (so that the NYCDOE is working to reduce screening by schools...).

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Match-Up 2019 conference in Switzerland, May 2019. Call for papers

Bettina Klaus points me towards this call for papers, for the latest in a series of conferences on matching. (I had the good fortune to attend the first and the fourth of these, in 2008 and 2017.)

MATCH-UP 2019: the Fifth International Workshop on Matching Under Preferences

May 26th-29th 2019
Congressi Stefano Franscini,
Monte Verità, Ascona, Switzerland (please subscribe to our mailing list there)
contact e-mail (Bettina Klaus):

(each participant will pay a fee covering direct costs of meals, coffee breaks, and an excursion, based on actual costs, of about 400 CHF)

MATCH-UP 2019 is the fifth workshop in the series of interdisciplinary and international workshops on matching under preferences.  The first in the series took place in Reykjavik in 2008, the second took place in
Budapest in 2012, the third in Glasgow in 2015, and the fourth in Boston in 2017.


Matching problems with preferences occur in widespread applications such as the assignment of school-leavers to universities, junior doctors to
hospitals, students to campus housing, children to schools, kidney
transplant patients to donors and so on. The common thread is that
individuals have preference lists over the possible outcomes and the task
is to find a matching of the participants that is in some sense optimal
with respect to these preferences.

The remit of this workshop is to explore matching problems with
preferences from the perspective of algorithms and complexity, discrete
mathematics, combinatorial optimization, game theory, mechanism design and economics, and thus a key objective is to bring together the research communities of the related areas.

List of topics:

The matching problems under consideration include, but are not limited to:
* two-sided matchings involving agents on both sides (e.g. college
  admissions, resident allocation, job markets, school choice, etc.)
* two-sided matchings involving agents and items (e.g. house allocation,
  course allocation, project allocation, assigning papers to reviewers,
  school choice, etc.)
* one-sided matchings (roommates problem, kidney exchanges, etc.)
* matching with payments (assignment game, etc.)

Invited speakers:
* Péter Biró, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary
* Flip Klijn, Institute for Economic Analysis (IAE-CSIC), Barcelona, Spain
* Bahar Rastegari, University of Southampton, UK
* Ildi Schlotter, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary

MATCH-UP 2019 Submissions, Easychair Paper Submission link:

We call for original papers that have not previously been published in (or accepted to appear in) a conference proceedings or a journal. Papers can however be under review for a conference or journal elsewhere at the time of submission.
There is no page limit for submissions. The submission should contain within the first 12 pages a clear presentation of the merits of the paper, including a discussion of the paper's importance within the context of prior work and a description of the key technical and conceptual ideas used to achieve its main claims. Proofs that can enable the main mathematical claims of the paper to be verified must be provided. Material other than the first 12 pages will be read at the committee's discretion.
Only abstracts of accepted papers will appear in the workshop proceedings. This should allow the simultaneous or subsequent submission of contributed papers to other workshops, conferences or journals. If authors so choose, they may include a link to the full version of their paper (if published, e.g., on arXiv, REpeC, SSRN or on a personal web page) in the proceedings.

MATCH-UP 2019 Important dates:
  • Paper submission deadline: 15 January 2019
  • Notification: 22 February 2019
  • Final version for proceedings: 15 March 2019
  • Poster abstract submission deadline: 1 April 2019
  • Workshop: Sunday 26 May (starting at 1400) to Wednesday 29 May (ending at 1830) with an excursion in the afternoon of Tuesday 28 May
MATCH-UP 2019 Organizing Committee:
  • Péter Biró, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary
  • Tamás Fleiner,  Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary (CS Program Chair)
  • Bettina Klaus, University of Lausanne, Switzerland (Chair)
  • David Manlove, University of Glasgow, UK
  • Marek Pycia, University of Zürich, Switzerland (ECON Program Chair)
MATCH-UP Steering Committee:

Further information:


Saturday, December 1, 2018

Why own your own (fashionable) clothes?

There's a rental market for fashionable women's clothes, Rent the Runway

The NY Times ran a feature story on it:
The Transformational Bliss of Borrowing Your Office Clothes
Rent the Runway’s Unlimited service saves working women something more valuable than money: their time.

"Though Rent the Runway was originally conceived as a solution for women who didn’t want to invest in party-wear they might use only once, Unlimited has become a strategic solution for professional women...

Friday, November 30, 2018

Vic Fuchs on desirable health insurance overhaul

In JAMA (gated:(.  Vic isn't optimistic about the political prospects of large scale reform of health insurance, but he has some thoughts about where we've gone wrong, and where we might try to go.

November 27, 2018
How to Make US Health Care More Equitable and Less Costly
Begin by Replacing Employment-Based Insurance
Victor R. Fuchs, PhD1
JAMA. 2018;320(20):2071-2072. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.16475

"With few exceptions, employment-based insurance is administered by health insurance companies. In consultation with employers, many of whom are self-insured, the insurance companies design benefit and premium schedules, negotiate reimbursement rates with hospitals and physicians, and approve or disapprove medical center, physician, and patient claims. There are only a few very large health insurance companies and many small ones, but none has been successful in restraining expenditures. The inability of large insurance companies to bargain more effectively with hospitals and physicians is a systemic problem.

"Most health care is delivered locally and, partly as a result of mergers and acquisitions, a predominant or premier hospital and affiliated physicians in a local market may have more bargaining power than even the largest insurance company. In some markets, a large insurance company is forced to pay more than twice the Medicare fee in part to retain a popular health care system on its plan.
"Box 1.

Characteristics of an Alternative Approach to Employment-Based Insurance

  • Universal eligibility: Unlike employment-based insurance and many of the special government programs with sharply defined eligibility criteria, everyone would be insured for comprehensive health care, including hospital care, physician and other professional services, and prescription medications.
  • Funding: This would come from a broad-based tax dedicated to health care.
Box 2.

Suggested Guidelines for an Alternative Approach to the Organization and Delivery of Medical Care

  • Rely as much as possible on private-sector responsibilities and initiatives
  • Limit the government’s role to broad decisions that do not require a large bureaucracy to implement
  • Give consumers a choice of health care plans at annual enrollment. In contrast, giving insured patients a choice for individual hospitals and physicians leads to higher not lower expenditures. Choice should also include the right of individuals to buy more than the basic plan that would be paid for with their after-tax dollars.
  • Provide for competition among health plans; this will be more valuable than competition among individual physicians.7 Competition should focus on service and quality of care.
  • Develop reimbursement methods other than fee-for-service. Some economists maintain that risk-adjusted capitation payment to plans is the best way to achieve cost-effective care. Plans receiving capitation payment could offer productivity incentives to physicians if desirable."

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Economic engineers as classical liberals

I received a book in the mail the other day called
Where Economics Went Wrong
Chicago's Abandonment of Classical Liberalism
by David Colander and Craig Freedman

If you just google the title without the subtitle, you find that there's an enormous body of opinion on where Economics went wrong.  But as the publisher states on the book's webpage (linked above) this book is about "How modern economics abandoned classical liberalism and lost its way."

My limited personal experience is that whenever my name appears in this kind of discussion, the authors disapprove of market design, or experiments, or both. So I was relieved to find myself missing from the first chapter, and surprised to find my work described instead in the final chapter, called "The Art and Craft of Economics: The Classical Liberal Attitude," which is organized around a brief set of profiles.

They write (p141) that they can't recommend any specific set of rules to become a good economist, "But what can be provided is a sketch of how we believe applied economics policy analysis should be done, or at least a rough version of that approach.  In this chapter we provide that guidance by sketching out the work of six economists whom we see as exemplifying the Classical Liberal method.  Our methodological suggestion to economists is to emulate them; consider their writings carefully and decide what aspect might apply legitimately to a variety of contexts."

and (p144): "The best way of conveying our conception of what is at least suggestive of a Classical Liberal stance is to present a handful of economists who, in our view, reflect this attitude. We have chosen six economists: Edward Leamer, Ariel Rubinstein, Alvin Roth, Paul Romer, Amartya Sen, and Dani Rodrik. ... We are not singling out any one of their specific practices as a model that should be followed assiduously. Instead, we are suggesting that they provide role models that might fruitfully be emulated by any cohort of young economists."

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Avinatan Hassidim (and market design) and Katrina Ligett (and privacy) celebrated in Israel

"The Marker," the biggest economic newspaper in Israel, includes two researchers who will be familiar to many readers of this blog in their list of "40 under 40" .

Here's their writeup on Avinatan Hassidim, a computer scientist and market designer at Bar Ilan University:
אבינתן חסידים, 37
"Among other things, Hassidim led the development of an algorithm for embedding doctors in Israel in a residency internship in hospitals (instead of the lottery method) and in recruiting students for a master's degree in psychology for the study programs. Today he is working on developing a system for placing graduates of law studies in Israel in places of specialization."

Here's his web page: Avinatan Hassidim
"My main research interests are auction theory, mechanism design, cake cutting, algorithmic game theory and approximation algorithms. My works have been used to devise the Israelli Medical Interns Lottery, the Israelli Psychology Match and to assign children to schools in various cities in Israel. "

Earlier related posts:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Monday, July 14, 2014

And here's The Marker on computer scientist Katrina Ligett,
קתרינה ליגת,
who is singled out for her work on differential privacy (including how privacy can have counterintuitive consequences in equilibrium), among other things.

HT: Ran Shorrer

Update: Itai Ashlagi points out to me that Ya'akov Babichenko of the Technion, who studies learning in games, is also on the list:

יעקב בביצ'נקו

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Transplantation is one of the casualties of Venezuela's economic crisis

The Pulitzer Center reports:

The Waiting List: Organ Transplants in Venezuela

"The government-managed organ procurement system that facilitated organ donations for transplant patients stopped working in 2017, leaving thousands of patients with no option to receive a transplant.

"The country has seen the number of kidney transplants from deceased donors performed every year drop from a record of 240 in 2012,to only nine in 2017. Government funding for transplant activity has also been curtailed, making it harder for low-income patients to obtain a transplant. This procedure has now become a luxury only the wealthiest patients can afford. "

Monday, November 26, 2018

Is legal commercial surrogacy coming to New York and Michigan?

New York and Michigan are two states in which  surrogacy is illegal, but the winds of change are blowing, with new legislation that would legalize it introduced, but not yet passed.  (My understanding is that in both states, surrogacy contracts are presently unenforceable, and there are criminal penalties for commercial contracts.)

Possible changes in New York's surrogacy law are discussed in the New York Law Journal:

Surrogacy in New York: Boon or Bane?
By Harriet Newman Cohen and Kristen E. Marinaccio | July 27, 2018

"New York, like many other states, enacted legislation prohibiting surrogacy agreements following the heartbreaking drama of Baby M. Three decades later, New York is one of just four states1 that still bans surrogacy agreements—however, that soon may change. This article will discuss the proposed legislation known as the “Child-Parent Security Act of 2017” (CPSA) which would lift the ban on surrogacy agreements in New York. It will explore the subtle and not so subtle benefits and burdens that may ensue if the legislation is passed.

"Baby M’s Influence on N.Y. Law Makers
In the mid-1980’s, before Baby M, many states including New York were considering enacting legislation to regulate surrogacy agreements.2 By early 1987, a bill was pending in the New York Legislature.3 That same year, just across state lines, in New Jersey, an emotional legal battle was being waged against a traditional surrogate, Mary Beth Whitehead, when she refused to surrender “Baby M” to the intended parents, Elizabeth and William Stern.4 The dramatic media coverage of the Baby M case, which included images of the police forcibly removing the baby from Ms. Whitehead’s arms, quickly caught the public’s attention.5 By June, 1987, facing fierce opposition from feminist and religious lobby groups, a seemingly antithetical coalition, the pending bill in New York was withdrawn.6

"In 1988, the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law unanimously concluded that New York should discourage traditional and gestational surrogacy agreements.7 In 1992, the New York State Legislature adopted that recommendation, declaring all surrogacy agreements void and unenforceable.8"

In Michigan, two bills introduced (but not yet passed):

SENATE BILL No. 1082 September 5, 2018, Introduced by Senators WARREN, ANANICH, CONYERS and YOUNG and referred to the Committee on Families, Seniors and Human Services.      A bill to establish gestational surrogate parentage contracts;  to allow gestational surrogate parentage contracts for  compensation; to provide for a child conceived, gestated, and born  according to a gestational surrogate parentage contract; to  prescribe the duties of certain state departments; to provide for  penalties and remedies; and to repeal acts and parts of acts.

The companion SENATE BILL No. 1084 provides for an appropriate birth certificate with the intended parents as the parents.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Guardian celebrates British kidney exchange

One day. Six operations. Three kidneys. The story of an organ donor chain

"The process relies on logistical masterminding by staff at the UK’s 23 transplant centres, as much as it does on the mind-boggling computer science it’s built around. Ideally, all the operations in a chain are scheduled to take place on the same day, within eight weeks of a matching run, and only after everyone has been painstakingly assessed to ensure the matches will work and they are well enough for surgery.

"It’s a curiously under-recognised scheme, among the general public at least, but its impact is growing every year. The first UK kidney exchange took place in 2007, with a two-way swap between four people. In 2017/18, 127 of the 1,010 living kidney transplants carried out – one in eight – came about as a result of the sharing scheme. It’s also a British success story: the UK far outstrips any other country in Europe in this field, carrying out about half of all the transplants made possible by sharing schemes."
And here's the NHS Blood and Transplant's ANNUAL REPORT ON LIVING DONOR KIDNEY TRANSPLANTATION REPORT FOR 2017/2018 (1 APRIL 2003 – 31 MARCH 2018)
"Key findings
• There were 940 adult living donor kidney transplants performed in the UK in
2017/18 an increase of 12 transplants compared to 2016/17. Of these, 449 (421 in
2016/17) were related, 237 (236 in 2016/17) were unrelated, 5 (18 in 2016/17) were HLAi, 41 (64 in 2016/17) were ABOi, 123 (109 in 2016/17) were paired/pooled and 85 (80 in 2016/17) were altruistic donor transplants. The equivalent number of paediatric transplants was 70, an 3% decrease from the previous year.
• The proportion of living donors across the UK being prescribed anti-hypertensive drugs is 5% at one year, 7% at five years and 11% at ten years post donation.
• Serum creatinine for living donors in the UK is 104 (IQ-range 90-121) at one year, 96 (84-111) at five years and 93 (81-106) at ten years post donation.
• The UK rate of graft survival five years after adult living donor kidney transplant by type is; unrelated 94%, related 92%, HLAi 81%, ABOi 87%, Paired exchange 95% and Altruistic 91%.
• 38% of registered patients have been transplanted and 63% of identified transplants proceed."

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Economic design in Budapest, June 2019 (submissions are open now)

Paper submissions are now invited for the

2019 Conference on Economic Design: Budapest, Hungary, June 12-14, 2019

The Scope:
The conference welcomes paper submissions from many different fields such as economics, business, finance, politics, computer science, operations research, law, history relevant to mechanism or institution design in a broad sense, regardless of whether contributions are theoretical, empirical, experimental, historical or practical. Subjects include but are not limited to auctions, matching, school choice, college admission, organ exchange, decentralised markets, random market mechanisms, voting, social choice, taxation, tax reform, coalition formation, price formation, ranking and scoring, measurements of power and influence, contest, fair division, contract, bargaining, negotiation, market design implementation, pricing on electricity, pricing on public utilities, pricing on cloud computing services, online allocation mechanisms, online auctions, market design experiments, public goods experiments, behavioural mechanism design, information and incentive, digital sport market for labour, market design in transportation sector, institution and organisation, health care, health policy, health insurance, pension scheme, fiscal policy, monetary policy, growth and development, performance evaluation, arbitration, patent design, governance, refugee assignment, robust mechanism design, matching in dynamic environments, rationality and irrationality in market design, etc.

The Keynote Speakers are:
Leonid-Hurwicz Lecture: Philippe Jehiel (Paris School of Economics)
Murat Sertel Lecture: Bhaskar Dutta (University of Warwick)
Paul Kleindorfer Lecture: Bumin Yenmez (Boston College)

Important Dates:
Paper Submission Opens: 19-Nov-2018
Paper Submission Deadline: 18-Feb-2019

Friday, November 23, 2018

Some movement towards kidney exchange in Germany

Axel Ockenfels writes:

"On 9 November 2018, members of the parliament of the German liberal party FDP submitted a petition ("Chancen von altruistischen Organlebendspenden nutzen – Spenden erleichtern") to ask the German government to draft a law that makes kidney exchange, non-directed altruistic kidney donations into a pool and, under certain circumstances, directed kidney donations to strangers possible in Germany": 
Chancen von altruistischen Organlebendspenden nutzen – Spenden erleichtern
"Make use of the opportunities of altruistic organ donation - make donations easier"

It calls for specific amendments to remove the current legal restrictions on kidney exchange.

German market design economists have been at the forefront of efforts to change the transplant law in this and other respects.

Here's an earlier post on the subject, whose links contain links to still earlier ones--maybe this series will converge soon in a way that reverses the decline in transplantation in Germany:

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Professional line sitters: Giving the gift of time

Have an urgent need to shop Black Friday bargains, but don't like waiting on lines in the cold and dark?  There's a business that will take care of that for you...

Professional Line Sitters Make Up to $35 an Hour — And This Is Their Busiest Time of the Year

Some links if you're too busy to read the story:
Skip the line (STL) inWashington DC
Same Ole Line Dudes in New York City
InLine4You an app for both sides of the market

"The Supreme Court website says security starts admitting people to oral argument sessions at 9:30 a.m., but “visitors may begin lining up on the Front Plaza as early as they feel comfortable” — which sometimes means four days in advance. The average SCOTUS wait time Goff gets tapped for runs about five hours (she charges $35 per hour), with occasional overnight requests for big cases like the travel ban and Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission."

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Kidney exchange in Turkey, some recent reports

Here are an academic paper on the kidney exchange program at Baskent University, and a news story about a kidney exchange in Turkey between two Ukranian patient-donor pairs:

Our Experience with Paired Kidney Exchange Transplantation
Haberal, Mehmet; Akdur, Aydincan; Karakayali, Feza Yarbug; Ozcelik, Umit; Moray, Gokhan; Kulah, Eyyup; Inal, Ali; Torgay, Adnan; Arslan, Gulnaz
Transplantation: July 2018 - Volume 102 - Issue - p S499

"Seven pairs were matched from July 2015 to September 2017 and we performed 14 PKE (5 women, 9 men) transplants. Mean recipient age was 49.8±11.5 (range: 23-61) and mean donor age was 50.4± 12.4 (range: 38-64) years. Five of the donors were fathers, one of them was a mother, 3 were husbands and 5 were wives. Mean mismatch ratio was 5±1 (range: 3-6). Reason for exchange was ABO incompatibility for 10 patients and positive crossmatch and presence of donor specific antibodies for 4 patients. All were 2-way donations. Median waiting time for getting suitable donor after registration was 3 months. Two of the recipients were retransplanted and desensitization with plasmapheresis was needed for panel reactive antibody positivity. One patient underwent preemptive kidney transplant.
"ABO incompatibility continues to pose a serious problem for transplantation candidates, especially in kidney and liver transplants. Our small series shows that PKE transplantation is an alternative for patients without a viable living-related donor or deceased compatible donor organ."

Kidney swap in Turkey offers new life to 2 Ukrainians
Coming from Ukraine, Valeriy Horobets, Viacheslav Shcherbyna undergo paired kidney exchange surgery in Istanbul, October 16, 2018

At Medicana International Istanbul Hospital ,
"Two Ukrainian citizens welcomed their new lives in Turkey after a cross-kidney transplant surgery in Istanbul."

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Global kidney exchange celebrated together with the Declaration of Istanbul, in the AJT

Here's the recent AJT Report from the American Journal of Transplantation,
which touches on various aspects of kidney politics, including global kidney exchange:

TenYear Celebration ofthe Declaration of Istanbul

First published: 29 October 2018

Abstract  "This month's installment of “The AJT Report” discusses updates to the Declaration of Istanbul on this key achievement's 10th anniversary. We also report on Italy's recommendation earlier this year regarding the Global Kidney Exchange, and join the transplantation community in bidding farewell to writer and “The AJT Report” originator, Susan Pondrom."

Here's the part about Global Kidney Exchange :


Italy Recommends Global Kidney Exchange to the World Health Organization
"In January 2018, Italy recommended a proposal for a global kidney exchange (GKE) to the World Health Organization (WHO).1 The recommendation was part of a collection of statements submitted by Member States and other participants of the 142nd session of the WHO Executive Board.

"Michael Rees, MD, PhD, a kidney transplant surgeon at the University of Toledo Medical Center in Ohio, and Alvin Roth, PhD, a Nobel Prize–winning economist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, launched GKE to address the reality that poverty is the biggest global barrier to transplantation and to develop a means for poor people from developing countries to donate and receive organs.2 At its core, GKE is a system to support transplant surgeons in their efforts to help people who are not only very sick and dying, but also too poor to afford dialysis. The system is also controversial in the transplantation community and has been associated with logistical barriers. Even so, Dr. Rees and Dr. Roth remain dedicated to seeing the system developed and implemented around the world.

"The statement from Italy represents a significant endorsement of GKE. It notes that internationally, 2 million to 7 million people die annually from kidney failure, and that kidney disease and other noncommunicable diseases have replaced communicable diseases as the most common causes of premature death worldwide. However, as billions of dollars are spent in low/middle‐income countries (LMICs) to reduce the burden of communicable diseases, significantly less is spent on noncommunicable diseases such as kidney failure. The statement asserts that not only is transplantation the preferred treatment for kidney failure, but that kidney exchange makes it possible to extend the reach of living donation, and for healthy living donors whose kidneys are incompatible with loved ones to exchange their kidneys for those that are compatible with the people they love.

"The first of Italy's action items stated, “We encourage WHO to include organs and in particular kidney transplantation in its program as we believe that oversight, cooperation and assistance of the WHO to carry out a pilot program with strong international governance that is consistent with the highest ethical and legal standard, and that carefully approves participating countries, facilities, healthcare providers and patient–donor pairs should be conceived and implemented.” Italy's statement referred to GKE, noting that such a program allows patients to receive a compatible kidney from another patient's donor. The statement also noted that the savings attained in high‐income countries could support long‐term care of the LMIC donor and recipient in their home country.

"This request sits in conflict with the 2017 Statement of the Declaration of Istanbul Custodian Group concerning ethical objections to the proposed GKE Program.3"

See all my posts on Global Kidney Exchange here.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Repugnance watch: Dwarf tossing and the DC Circuit Court of Appeals

When I first wrote about repugnant transactions in Roth (2007), dwarf tossing was among the examples I used.  Many blog posts about repugnance later, it was with a sense of recognition that I read the following story from Mother Jones about President Trump's latest nomination to the federal appellate courts:

Trump’s Nominee to Replace Kavanaugh Is a Staunch Defender of Dwarf-Tossing
Neomi Rao is best known as Trump’s anti-regulation czar, but she’s a veteran of the culture wars.

"Neomi Rao, Trump’s nominee to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the powerful DC Circuit, who has written at least two law review articles and a blog post in which she defended dwarf-tossing.

"Especially popular in Florida bars, dwarf-tossing is the strange spectacle in which competitors throw Velcro-clad little people at a wall or mattress like a shotput. The longest toss wins. The sport has been banned in some American states and parts of France, where a judge upheld such bansbecause of “considerations of human dignity.” Rao considers these laws an affront to individual liberty that fails to recognize the right of the dwarf to be tossed. In one article, she wrote that the decision in France upholding the dwarf-tossing ban was an example of “dignity as coercion” and that it “demonstrates how concepts of dignity can be used to coerce individuals by forcing upon them a particular understanding of dignity.”
"Dwarf-tossing is an odd cause for a federal judicial nominee to champion. Even weirder, Rao has invoked it repeatedly in her writing to make the case that a misguided focus on human dignity is leading US courts to run afoul of the Constitution in decisions that advance LGBT rights and racial equality. "

HT: Kim Krawiec

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Congratulations to Fuhito Kojima, on the Enjoji Jiro Memorial Prize

My colleague Fuhito Kojima has a lot to be congratulated on lately, and today comes another cause for congratulations.  He shares the 5th Enjoji Jiro Memorial Prize by the Japan Center for Economic Research. The prize recognizes 'young and mid-level economists under 45 years of age who have made achievements in the field of economic theory, and have a promising future.'

Here's the story from today's Nikkei Shimbun Morning Paper:

第5回「円城寺次郎記念賞」 小島・渡辺両氏に

日本経済新聞 朝刊

"The 5th "Jiroji Jiro Memorial Award" To Mr. Kojima and Mr. Watanabe"

Congratulations, Fuhito!

I used Google translate to translate the headline, but for the following paragraph it had trouble with a word that I gather in this context means "between junior and senior in age/career," which came out as saying that Fuhito is a "young and medium-sized economist ." (The description of the prize above comes from an English language report on the 2009 prize...)