Friday, November 16, 2018

Xenotransplants: the (evergreen) promise of transplantable organs from pigs

Wouldn't it be great if the shortage of transplantable organs could be fixed by figuring out how to grow them in farm animals? (Yes, that would raise a bunch of issues of its own, but so does meat eating...)

The NY Times has the story of how that might be closer than it has been in the past:

It includes lots of promising news, and this observation:
“The joke about xenotransplantation is that it’s always just around the corner, and it always will be,” says Parsia Vagefi, the chief of surgical transplantation at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “But recent progress has been so remarkable that for first time it feels like we’re on the verge of a definitive solution to the organ crisis.”

And of course, note that many more than 20 Americans die each day due to a shortage of organs:

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The law and economics of market design: conference in Mannheim November 15-16

The program is here, but for some reason I can't copy it.
Kim Krawiec and Peter Cramton will be giving keynote addresses.

Market design seems like a natural for a conference on law and economics...

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Terrible Toll of the Kidney Shortage, by McCormick, Held and Chertow

An editorial in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology counts the high human costs of the kidney shortage in terms not only of deaths among those on the waiting list for a deceased donor transplant, but also among the other three-fourths of kidney failure patients who are not added to the waiting list but who would medically benefit from a transplant.

The Terrible Toll of the Kidney Shortage,
by Frank McCormick, Philip J. Held, and Glenn M. Chertow

"to see the full extent of the harm done by the kidney shortage and the potential benefit from ending it, let us assume that 50% of those who are diagnosed with ESRD could medically benefit from a transplant. (This assumption is consistent with the findings of Schold et al. 5 that, if all of the patients on dialysis who have a life expectancy of >5 years were placed on the kidney waiting list, the number on the list would almost double.) Thus, half of the 126,000 patients who are currently diagnosed with ESRD each year—63,000 patients—might medically benefit from a transplant. However,if only 20,000 patients per year receive a transplant, the remaining 43,000 would join the growing toll of those who die prematurely because of the kidney shortage. To put this in perspective, this is the same death toll as from 85 fully loaded 747s crashing each year.


See my earlier post on earlier, defining work on the costs of the organ shortage:

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Welfare of sophisticated versus naive players revisited, by Babaioff, Gonczarowski, and Romm

Here's a new paper with a nuanced view of how well sophisticated players may do in a non-strategy-proof mechanism:

Playing on a level field: Sincere and sophisticated players in the Boston mechanism with a coarse priority structure
Moshe Babaioff, Yannai A. Gonczarowski, Assaf Romm∗
October 15, 2018

Abstract: Who gains and who loses from a manipulable school choice mechanism? We examine this question with a focus on the outcomes for sincere and sophisticated students,and present results concerning their absolute and relative gains under the manipulable Boston Mechanism (BM) as compared with the strategy-proof Deferred Acceptance (DA). The absolute gain of a student of a certain type is the difference between her expected utility under (an equilibrium of) BM and her utility under (the dominant strategy quilibrium of) DA. Holding everything else constant, one type of a player has relative gain with respect to another type if her absolute gain is higher. Prior theoretical works presented inconclusive results regarding the absolute gains of both types of students, and predicted (or assumed) positive relative gains for sophisticated types compared to sincere types. The empirical evidence is also mixed, with different markets exhibiting very different behaviors. We extend the previous results and explain the inconsistent empirical findings using a large random market approach. We provide robust and generic results of the “anything goes” variety for markets with a coarse priority structure. That is, in such markets there are many sincere and sophisticated students who prefer BM to DA (positive absolute gain), and vice versa (negative absolute gain). Furthermore, some populations may even get a relative gain from being sincere (and being perceived as such). We conclude by studying market forces that can influence the choice between the two mechanisms.

Monday, November 12, 2018

MIT School choice summit: Nov. 13

A big group of academics and practitioners involved in school choice will gather in Cambridge to take stock of what we have learned, and still hope to learn, about school choice.


"November 13, 2018 | Cambridge, MA
The MIT School Access and Quality Summit will focus on school enrollment strategies that can increase access and generate data to improve portfolio planning and the measurement of school effectiveness. Researchers will present new findings on the impact of policy interventions, and policymakers will share their experiences with implementation. Through these conversations, we hope to spark long-term partnerships between researchers and practitioners, and prompt continuous interaction between rigorous research and policy design, implementation, and evaluation."

Tuesday, November 13

9:00 AM  Welcome and Introduction
Ian Waitz, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate and Graduate Education, MIT

9:15 AM  Leveraging Enrollment Mechanisms to Evaluate Impact
Joshua Angrist, Director, School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative
Parag Pathak, Director, School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative

9:45 AM  Simplifying Enrollment in Chicago: A First Look at the Adoption of GoCPS
Lisa Barrow, Senior Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Tony T. Howard, III, Executive Director of Enrollment and Education Policy, Chicago Public Schools

10:45 AM  Break

11:00 AM  Keynote
Richard Carranza, Chancellor, of New York City Department of Education

11:30 Taking Stock of School Choice Reforms
Neil Dorosin, Executive Director, Institute for Innovation in Public School Choice

12:00 PM  Working Lunch

Case Consultancies
Introduction by Carrie Conaway, Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

1:30 PM  Improving School Quality in Camden
Paymon Rouhanifard, Former Superintendent, Camden City School District

2:00 PM Evidence on the Determinants and Consequences of School Choice from Washington DC
Steven Glazerman, Senior Policy Fellow, Mathematica Policy Research
Dallas Dotter, Researcher, Mathematica Policy Research
Claudia Luján, Deputy Chief, Strategic School Planning and Enrollment, District of Columbia Public Schools

3:00 PM  Break

3:15 PM  Leveling the Playing Field for High School Admissions in New York City
Sarah Cohodes, Assistant Professor of Education and Public Policy, Columbia University
Nadiya Chadha, Director of High School Admissions Research and Policy, New York City Department of Education

4:15 PM  Developing a National Research Agenda for Access and Choice
Douglas Harris, Director, The National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Repugnance watch: Greyhound racing banned (even) in Florida

Florida had an active greyhound racing industry, now banned by referendum:
Here's the story from the Orlando Sentinal:
How vote to end Florida greyhound racing won and what comes next

"After years of failing to push greyhound racing reform through the Florida Legislature, animal-welfare advocates took their mission directly to the state’s voters this week — scoring such a decisive victory that proponents say it signals the eventual end of the sport across the country.

“A 69-percent vote in Florida — a state with a still-conservative electorate — shows that this is now unstoppable,” said Carey Theil, executive director of GREY2K USA, the main force behind the Yes on 13 campaign to support the racing ban. “It sends a message not only to the remaining dog tracks in the nation but all around the world that dogs are members of our families and we will not tolerate industries that harm them.
"Florida’s 11 active dog tracks will have until Jan. 1, 2021, to phase out their live greyhound racing. They’ll still be able to race horses, if their tracks can accommodate the event, and they’ll still be able to have wagering on simulcast races from other tracks, including from dog tracks in the five remaining states where the practice is still active and legal."

A NY Times article begins by considering the problem of rehoming the racing dogs who will be retired, but includes an interesting feature of the industry that has kept dog racing active in Florida:

Thousands of Greyhounds May Need Homes as Florida Bans Racing

"Florida’s tracks remained in part because of state laws that require them to continue racing in order to keep their lucrative gambling operations. In Florida, only existing “parimutuel” facilities like dog tracks and horse tracks could obtain licenses to operate card rooms and slots."

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Obvious manipulations by Pete Troyan and Thayer Morrill

Here's a paper motivated by the fact that (obviously:) there are going to be many more mechanisms that aren't obviously manipulable than there are mechanisms that are obviously strategy proof, or even strategy proof...

Obvious Manipulations
Peter Troyan, Thayer Morrill∗ (*in random order)
October 3, 2018

Abstract: A mechanism is strategy-proof if agents can never profitably manipulate, in any state of the world; however, not all non-strategy-proof
mechanisms are equally easy to manipulate - some are more “obviously”
manipulable than others. We propose a formal definition of an obvious
manipulation and argue that it may be advantageous for designers to
tolerate some manipulations, so long as they are non-obvious. By doing
so, improvements can be achieved on other key dimensions, such as
efficiency and fairness, without significantly compromising incentives.
We classify common non-strategy-proof mechanisms as either obviously
manipulable (OM) or not obviously manipulable (NOM), and show that
this distinction is both tractable and in-line with empirical realities
regarding the success of manipulable mechanisms in practical market
design settings

"Intuitively, a manipulation classified as “obvious” if it either makes
the agent strictly better off in the worst case ...or it makes the agent strictly better off in the best case..."

Friday, November 9, 2018

Marijuana scores some gains in the voting booth

The NY Times has the story:
Marijuana Embraced in Michigan, Utah and Missouri, but Rejected in North Dakota

"Marijuana initiatives appeared on ballots in four states in the midterm elections. In Michigan and North Dakota, initiatives gave voters the opportunity to legalize marijuana for recreational use. In Missouri and Utah, voters chose whether to allow people who are sick to use the drug for medical reasons."

See my earlier post:

Friday, October 6, 2017

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Arrow lecture at Columbia University this evening

The 11th Annual Kenneth J. Arrow Lecture | Market Design in Large Worlds: The Example of Kidney Exchange
Thursday, November 8, 2018
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
International Affairs Building, 420 W. 118 St., New York, NY 10027 1501

Please join us for the 11th Annual Kenneth J. Arrow Lecture delivered by Alvin Roth, the 2012 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences and Craig and Susan McCaw Professor of Economics at Stanford University, on "Market Design in Large Worlds: The Example of Kidney Exchange."
Discussants: Parag Pathak, Jane Berkowitz Carlton and Dennis William Carlton Professor of Microeconomics at MIT
Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2001 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences and University Professor at Columbia University Description:

Abstract: "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 lecture will illustrate these points with some examples, drawing most heavily on the experience of kidney exchange."

About the Kenneth J. Arrow Lecture Series: Kenneth J. Arrow’s work has shaped the course of economics for the past sixty years so deeply that, in a sense, every modern economist is his student. His ideas, style of research, and breadth of vision have been a model for generations of the boldest, most creative, and most inventive economists. His work has yielded such seminal theorems as general equilibrium, social choice, and endogenous growth, proving that simple ideas have a profound impact. The Kenneth J. Arrow Lecture Series highlights economists, from Nobel laureates to groundbreaking younger scholars, whose work builds on Arrow’s scholarship as well as his innovative spirit. The books in the series are an expansion of the lectures that are held in Arrow's honor at Columbia University.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Kidney exchange needs to be conducted at scale, in Vox

Nikhil Agarwal, Itai Ashlagi, Eduardo Azevedo, Clayton Featherstone,  and Omer Karaduman summarize their recent paper in

Market failure in kidney exchange
03 November 2018

National kidney exchange platforms significantly boost the number of life-saving kidney transplants by finding complicated exchange arrangements that are not possible within any single hospital. This column examines US data and finds that the majority of kidney exchanges continue to be performed within hospitals, suggesting a fragmented market that comes at a large efficiency cost. National platforms may need to be redesigned to encourage full participation, with reimbursement reform.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Discussion of marijuana in the U.K.--a police chief looks ahead

Now that medical marijuana is legal, can legal recreational use be far behind?  The Guardian has the story.
Former Met police chief urges rethink on cannabis
Bernard Hogan-Howe says there is clear evidence to warrant review of prohibition

"He said: “We already know from the evidence around the world that where people use it for medicinal purposes, it slides into recreational. Surely it’s better that we get ready for that potential change.”

"His intervention follows the legalisation of recreational cannabis in Canada last week, its decriminalisation in Uruguay, Portugal and in several US states, and the relaxation of cannabis laws in the UK to allow the prescription of cannabis-based medicines from next month.
"Hogan-Howe joins a growing list of prominent figures who have cast doubt on the coherence of the UK’s approach to enforcing laws that are often ignored with impunity, given that a number of police forces have publicly said they would not prosecute perpetrators of low-level cannabis offences."

Monday, November 5, 2018

The case for compensating Australian plasma donors, by Bob Slonim

Here's Bob Slonim, explaining the current situation in Australia, of unpaid Australian plasma donors, and big imports of plasma products from countries in which donors are paid:

How Australia can fix the market for plasma and save millions

"The National Blood Authority’s 2016-2017 annual report indicates Australian imports of immunoglobulin, a plasma component, provide 44% of domestic demand. This costs A$120 million while the remaining 56% comes from domestic supply costing A$413 million.

"This implies the domestic supply of immunoglobulin costs over three times more per unit than what is imported, despite domestic donors not being compensated."

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Waze carpool--launched nationwide

At the NBER market design conference, Michael Schwarz spoke of market design with his practioner hat on (he's Microsoft's chief economist, and former chief scientist at Waze when he worked for Google). He points out the importance of reducing transaction costs, because "enormous [potential] markets may consist of tiny transactions."

Speaking of which, he points out that Waze carpool went live throughout the U.S. last month.

Here's a story: Waze launches carpool service across the U.S.

"Carpooling isn’t just a smart way to cut down on weekly expenditures. It’s also good for the planet: Sharing a car with coworkers, friends, or neighbors keeps 1,600 pounds of greenhouse gas out of the air each year. And if 100 people were to take advantage of a carpool every day, it’d eliminate 1,320 pounds of carbon monoxide and a whopping 2,376,000 pounds of carbon dioxide.

That’s one of the reasons Google-owned navigation platform Waze hopes to lower the barrier to entry. Starting today, it’s launching Waze Carpool, a ridesharing platform it hopes will one day eliminate traffic congestion — and by extension pollution — across the U.S. in all 50 states. The rollout follows successful pilot tests in Israel, California, Texas, Washington, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Nevada."

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Some Portuguese press on kidney exchange and market design

When I was in Lisbon I gave two talks, and some interviews.  Here's a nice story written after both my talks:
O que tem a economia a ver com transplantes de rins? Tudo [What Does The Economy Have To Do With Kidney Transplants? Everything.]
by SÓNIA M. LOURENÇO (whose sister once took my experimental economics class at Harvard)

Here's a story that followed the first talk, which was part of an honorary degree ceremony.
A ciência económica ao serviço do amor, saúde e felicidade
by Sandra Maximiano
[G translate: Economic science at the service of love, health and happiness]
Here's a video and some photos of the whole event...

And I gave a tv interview in which the interviewer wished to ignore my pre-interview insistence to talk about game theory and market design and the conference in Portugal as opposed to the recession and recovery, and Italy...(but we reached a sort of compromise...)*

Nobel da Economia em entrevista à TVI critica populismos e alerta para mais migração
Alvin Roth referiu ainda que o fenómeno do aquecimento global vai aumentar a migração.
[G translate: Nobel la Economía in interview with TVI criticizes populism and alert for more migration
Alvin Roth also noted that the phenomenon of global warming will increase migration.]

Friday, November 2, 2018

Private equity job offers to young investment bankers unravel earlier this year, while investment banks try to stem their own unraveling

Two stories from the WSJ about unraveling, at different parts of the financial industry.

1. The WSJ has publishes this year's unraveling story earlier than last year's...

No Experience? No Problem. Private Equity Lures Newbie Bankers With $300,000 Offers.
Annual recruitment drive starts earlier this year as firms try to get a jump on preferred candidates

"An industrywide scramble is under way this week to hire young investment bankers.

"The instigator was Thoma Bravo LLC, which extended its first job offers this past weekend, according to people familiar with the matter. Word spread quickly to rivals, and by Monday interviews were under way at nearly every big firm, including Blackstone Group LP, Apollo Global Management LLC, Carlyle Group LP and TPG.

"Welcome to private equity’s annual recruitment, the frenzied window of interviews and fast-expiring job offers that firms use to fill their junior ranks. The candidates graduated college as recently as last spring and landed at Wall Street investment-banking desks just weeks ago.

"Those lucky enough to get offers will finish their two-year bank analyst programs and start at private-equity firms in the summer of 2020...
"Recruiting used to take place during the summer, once applicants had at least a year of experience under their belts. But it has crept earlier as firms try to get a jump on preferred candidates. In 2014, interviews began in February. Last year, recruiting started before Christmas. Applicants describe a frantic period of interviews and “exploding” offers that can expire in 24 hours or less.

2. The investment banks also hire very early in students' college careers, and here's a story about an attempt to resist that urge (good luck with that):

 Goldman, JPMorgan Hit Pause on Intern Recruiting ‘Madness’
A push in recent years to move up application deadlines isn’t bringing in the kinds of candidates the banks need

"Two Wall Street investment banks are easing up in the race to hire their most junior employees.

"Goldman Sachs Group Inc.  and JPMorgan Chase & Co. won’t interview or extend summer internship offers to college sophomores this year and will go back to recruiting students in the fall of their junior year, executives said.

"It is a nod to a softer Wall Street, eager to cast off its sweatbox image to compete with perk-happy Silicon Valley. It is also an acknowledgment that a push in recent years to move up application deadlines isn’t bringing in the kinds of candidates banks need as they try to diversify their overwhelmingly white and male ranks.

“We were contributing to an environment that pressured students to choose rather than to explore,” said Dane Holmes, Goldman’s top human-resources executive. “I want people who want to be at Goldman Sachs, not people who felt they had to say yes to an offer.”

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Harvard admissions on trial--dualing economist expert witnesses, interesting details

The Chronicle of Higher Ed has the story:
Dueling Economists: Rival Analyses of Harvard’s Admissions Process Emerge at Trial
There are many strands to this story (and it seems to be ungated), but here I'll just note a few interesting admissions stats.

"Of the 37,000 applicants for admission to the Class of 2019, for instance, 8,200 had perfect grade-point averages, and more than 2,700 had perfect scores on the verbal section of the SAT. But Harvard had only about 1,700 spots to offer. Even if the university wished to consider only grades and test scores, it would be hard-pressed to select a freshman class using those variables alone.
"The two economists’ analyses vary in several ways. Perhaps most significant, their respective models include different kinds of applicants. Arcidiacono excludes recruited athletes, the children of alumni, the children of Harvard faculty and staff members, and students on a special list that includes children of donors.

"Card includes them. Though the total number of students who fit those descriptions represents a small fraction of the applicant pool (5 percent), they account for a large proportion of accepted students (29 percent).