Monday, October 8, 2018

2018 Exeter Prize to Shengwu Li (and a very strong shortlist)

On a day when it's likely that another prize in Economics will be announced (but before it has been), I'm happy to note the following announcement on the ESA googlegroup:

We are happy to announce the winner of the 2018 Exeter Prize for the best paper published in the previous calendar year in a peer-reviewed journal in the fields of Experimental Economics, Behavioural Economics and Decision Theory.
The winner is Shengwu Li (Harvard University) for his paper “Obviously Strategy-Proof Mechanisms”, published in the American Economic Review.
The paper proposes and analyzes a desirable property for mechanisms implementing social outcomes. A mechanism is a game whose rules are designed by a social planner for the purpose of implementing a certain desirable social outcome (e.g., efficiency or fairness). Such mechanisms are always designed under the assumption that the parties involved will play an equilibrium outcome. Strategy Proof mechanisms received special attention in the literature, because they implement an outcome that is not only an equilibrium, but also one with dominant strategies, i.e., no player can do anything better than playing the strategy that leads to the socially desirable outcome, no matter what other people are doing. Yet as experimental and empirical results have shown, in real life, strategy proof mechanisms don’t always guarantee that players will do what they are expected to do. This is mainly because the reasoning behind the “right thing to do” is often complicated even in cases that admit a dominant-strategy equilibrium (one prominent mechanism of this sort is the second-price auction). Li’s paper proposes a concept of “obvious mechanisms.” This mechanism not only admits a dominant-strategy equilibrium, but also guarantees that it is cognitively simple to confirm that playing anything else is irrational. Li’s approach allows us to make mechanism design theory more applicable, and closer to reality. It warns us against choosing social mechanisms that we as game theorists hold to be secure, but when applied in the real-world will prove to be too complicated for people to do the right thing.
The winning paper was selected by the panel of Rosemarie Nagel (Pompeu Fabra University), Michel Regenwetter (University of Illinois) and Eyal Winter (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Shengwu will be visiting the University of Exeter to receive the award and give a public lecture.
This year was again exceptionally competitive with a large number of excellent nominations. In addition to the winner, this year’s shortlist was:
Chew, Soo Hong, Bin Miao, and Songfa Zhong. "Partial ambiguity." Econometrica 85.4 (2017): 1239-1260.
Glover, Dylan, Amanda Pallais, and William Pariente. "Discrimination as a self-fulfilling prophecy: Evidence from French grocery stores." The Quarterly Journal of Economics 132.3 (2017): 1219-1260.

Kessler, Judd B. "Announcements of support and public good provision." American Economic Review 107.12 (2017): 3760-87.

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