Sunday, February 17, 2019

Refugees and asylum seekers, in three charts

From the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis,

Where Do Most Refugees Come From, and Where Do They Go?
 By Subhayu Bandyopadhyay, and Asha Bharadwaj,

Saturday, February 16, 2019

More on the immigration "emergency": U.S. undocumented population continues to fall

The latest  Journal on Migration and Human Security has an article whose title conveys a lot of information.  For example, most undocumented residents didn't cross the border illegally.

US Undocumented Population Continued to Fall from 2016 to 2017 and Visa Overstays Significantly Exceeded Illegal Crossings for the Seventh Consecutive Year  by Robert Warren

This article presents estimates of the US undocumented population for 2017 derived by the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS). It focuses on the steep decline in the undocumented population from Mexico since 2010. While the president has focused the nation’s attention on the border wall, half a million[1] US undocumented residents from Mexico left[2] the undocumented population in 2016 alone, more than three times the number that arrived that year, leading to an overall decrease of nearly 400,000 undocumented residents from Mexico from 2016 to 2017. From 2010 to 2017, the undocumented population from Mexico fell by a remarkable 1.3 million.
For the past 10 years, the primary mode of entry for the undocumented population has been to overstay temporary visas. This article provides estimates of the number of noncitizens who overstayed temporary visas and those who entered without inspection (EWIs) in 2016 by the top five countries of origin.
Summary of Findings
  • The US undocumented population from Mexico fell by almost 400,000 in 2017.
  • In 2017, for the first time, the population from Mexico constituted less than one half of the total undocumented population.
  • Since 2010, the undocumented population from Mexico has declined by 1.3 million.
  • In California, the undocumented population from Mexico has declined by 26 percent since 2010, falling from 2.0 to 1.5 million; it also dropped by 50 percent in Alabama, and by one third in Georgia, New York, and New Mexico.
  • The undocumented population from Venezuela grew rapidly after 2013, increasing from 60,000 to 145,000 in just four years.
  • Visa overstays have significantly exceeded illegal border crossings during each of the last seven years.
  • Mexico was the leading country for overstays in 2017, with about twice as many as India or China.
The estimates presented here were derived by CMS based on information collected in the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey (ACS). 
See earlier, same author:

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Friday, February 15, 2019

Commercial surrogacy to be legalized in New York?

Some stories on the current proposals and the controversy involved.

From the NY Post:

Cuomo proposes law to end ban on surrogate moms

"Gov. Cuomo is proposing a new law that will lift the ban on surrogacy contracts — enabling New Yorkers for the first time to pay a woman to have a baby for them through in-vitro fertilization.
The ban has been in place since 1992.
“New York’s antiquated laws frankly are discriminatory against all couples struggling with fertility, same sex or otherwise” Cuomo said in a statement to The Post."
From the National Catholic Register:
Cuomo Proposal Would Lift New York’s Ban on Surrogacy Contracts --Under current law, surrogacy contracts in the state are punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or by a felony charge.
"Just days after expanding legal abortion up to the point of birth, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing a law that would lift the ban on surrogacy contracts in the state of New York.
If passed, the law would allow New Yorkers to pay a woman to carry to term a child conceived through in vitro fertilization. It would not allow a surrogate mother to use her own eggs (and therefore be related biologically to the child).
"Cuomo’s proposal, called the Child-Parent Security Act, is included in the governor’s executive budget plan for the state and is something his administration has been considering since at least 2015, according to the Post.  
When Cuomo first floated the idea, Jennifer Lahl of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, slammed surrogacy for treating women “like breeding animals.”
“We try to get a mother and a baby to bond,” Lahl told the Post in 2015. “We’re against ripping the baby from the mother the moment he leaves the womb. It’s not good for the child.”
Surrogacy laws vary widely throughout the United States. Besides New York, only three other states explicitly ban all surrogacy contracts: Nebraska, Michigan, and Arizona. Many other states have restrictions on surrogacy agreements and treat the surrogacy process similarly to adoption, requiring court appearances, home studies and a window for the birth mother to change her mind after the baby is born.
Surrogate mothers are typically paid between $30,000 and $50,000 for carrying a child to term, depending upon the state and the contract.  
"Kathleen Gallagher, the New York Catholic Conference director of pro-life activities, told the Post that she found the New York proposal “appalling.”
“This is the buying and selling of children and the exploitation of women. There are going to be poor women exploited by wealthy couples,” she said.
The Catholic Church denounced the practice of surrogacy in the 1987 document Donum Vitae, in which the Vatican stated that surrogacy “represents an objective failure to meet the obligations of maternal love,” calling it a “detriment” to the family and the dignity of the human person by divorcing the “physical, psychological and moral elements which constitute those families.”

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Matching story for Valentine's day--BBC

Valentine's Day sparks a demand not just for love, but also for stories about marriage as a matching market.  This year I was among those interviewed by the BBC.  Below are two links:  you can listen to the interviews, or read a summary.

First, the interviews: They go for 18 minutes, and are easy listening.  I'm interviewed third, beginning just before minute 10 and going to about minute 14.   (I didn't see a way to embed it) :

Rational Partner Choice: "Should your head trump your heart when seeking lifelong love? We ask an economist, a romantic novelist and a hyper-rationalist businessman this Valentine's Day challenge."

(There actually are 4 interviews, the fourth is with the wife of the businessman, Ed Conard: they've been happily married for 20 years.)

The written summary has me as the middle of three views on the subject (the headline below reflects the first of the views they considered, with marriage modeled as an optimal stopping problem).

Forget love: This is how to find your perfect partner  By Justin Rowlatt

Here's what they say about their conversation with me:

"Mr Conard's approach to choosing a wife is a well-established method for buying things like a new place to live but, says Nobel Prize winning economist Alvin Roth, spouses aren't like houses: marriage is a market without prices.
"He agrees that it is important to meet quite a few possible partners before you take the plunge - "don't marry the first person you meet", he warns.

"You've also got to have realistic expectations: "the first thing a matrimonial agency has to do is persuade clients they aren't a 10."

"But, he says, you can do too much calibrating and evaluating. Choosing a partner is a two-way thing: it is only when you are serious about marriage that potential partners will take you seriously.

"Part of being well matched is the history you share and this starts when you first meet", Prof Roth says, "so investing in that history improves the quality of that match."
And here are my Valentine's Day blog posts to date.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Market design through machine learning: David Parkes

If I were in Boston I'd go to hear David Parkes speak today about

Optimal Economic Design through Deep Learning

Abstract: Designing an auction that maximizes expected revenue is a major open problem in economics. Despite significant effort, only the single-item case is fully understood. We ask whether the tools of deep learning can be used to make progress. We show that multi-layer neural networks can learn essentially optimal auction designs for the few problems that have been solved analytically, and can be used to design auctions for poorly understood problems, including settings with multiple items and budget constraints. I will also overview applications to other problems of optimal economic design, and discuss the broader implications of this work. Joint work with Paul Duetting (London School of Economics), Zhe Feng (Harvard University), Noah Golowich (Harvard University), Harikrishna Narasimhan (Harvard -> Google), and Sai Srivatsa (Harvard University). Working paper:

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The new market for (and marketing of) nicotine--Robert Jackler (followed by the CDC)

My colleague Rob Jackler has been investigating the marketing of nicotine delivered through (non-burning) e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine without combustion products, by "vaping." Apparently nicotine is highly addictive, and the marketing is taking aim at very young people, including  "stealth" delivery systems designed to camouflage the act of vaping.

Here's a Stanford Medicine interview, published yesterday:
Robert Jackler says Juul spurs 'nicotine arms race'

Here's a figure from the paper "Nicotine arms race: JUUL and the high-nicotine product market, " by Robert K Jackler, Divya Ramamurthi, in the Journal Tobacco Control.

 And here's a figure from the article
"JUUL and other stealth vaporisers: hiding the habit from parents and teachers," by Divya Ramamurthi, Cindy Chau, Robert K Jackler, in Tobacco Control

In related news, also published yesterday, here's a press release from the Center for Disease Control (CDC):
4.9 million middle and high school students used tobacco products in 2018

"About 4.9 million middle and high school students were current users (used in the past 30 days) of some type of tobacco product in 2018, up from 3.6 million in 2017. This increase—driven by a surge in e-cigarette use—erased past progress in reducing youth tobacco product use, according to a new Vital Signs report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"More than 1 in 4 (27.1%) high school students and about 1 in 14 (7.2%) middle school students currently used a tobacco product in 2018. For the fifth year in a row, e-cigarettes (20.8%) were the most commonly used tobacco product among high schoolers...
"This Vital Signs report is based on data from the 2011–2018 National Youth Tobacco Surveys analyzed by CDC, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Cancer Institute (NCI)."

Here's a figure from the Vital Signs report:

Monday, February 11, 2019

Computational and Experimental Economics Conference in Barcelona

Here's the call for papers, by Feb 28:
Computational and Experimental Economics

The workshop will run for 2 days and will take place on June 10-11, 2019 in Barcelona. In this two days’ workshop we want to bring together researchers working in two quite separate fields, computational economics and experimental economics, which yet have seen a steady increase of fruitful interaction in the recent years ( see e.g. The Handbook of Computational Economics, Heterogenous Agents, Edited by Cars Hommes, Blake LeBaron, Volume 4, 2018, Elsevier.).
Topics include the understanding of the emergent dynamic properties of economic models, some of which are too complex to solve analytically. However, human behavior can often be captured by relatively simple heuristics. While computational economics departs from simulations to derive their models, experimental economics uses human behavior and then often simulation techniques to develop descriptive models of such behavior. Such models include Agent Based Modeling (ABM), models of learning based on genetic algorithm, Reinforcement models, and other learning or cognitive models.

Keynote Speakers

Workshop organizers

Digital Economy and Inclusive Growth--report from the Luohan Academy

Here's an initial report from the Luohan Academy:

 Digital Technology and Inclusive Growth--Executive Summary

From the mission statement:
"Social scientists in general, including economists, must therefore collaborate to help societies adapt smoothly and fairly to the digital revolution. Two important objectives of the academic community are first, to understand business models and market structures that enable growth and progress, and second, to identify the impact of digitization on individual and social welfare. So far the rapidly increasing scale of digitization has not been followed by a corresponding increase in theoretically grounded empirical research on the rationales,  consequences, and policies of digitization. A well-organized research community could greatly facilitate and speed up such research efforts."

And, as the report makes clear, China is a good place to study ecommerce:

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Stanford GSB celebrates Mohammad Akbarpour

Mohammad Akbarpour: Humanizing Math for the Greater Good
"The Stanford GSB economist discusses his groundbreaking research into kidney exchanges, wealth inequality, and “anything that wakes me up at night.”
"In 2012, ...He and four of his close friends, who had all attended high school, college, or graduate school together, were feeling unsatisfied with their influence beyond Stanford’s manicured campus. Then Salman Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, presented at Stanford GSB.

"After watching Khan’s talk, Akbarpour and his friends built KelaseDars, also known as KhanacademyFarsi, to which Akbarpour has now contributed more than 280 videos on subjects ranging from high school Newtonian physics to college-level game theory. The website as a whole has delivered more than 5 million free lessons to Farsi speakers who would otherwise not have access to a high-quality education. Many of them live in Afghanistan and Iran.
"It was hectic and hard, “but it was a beautiful experience with a magnificent team,” Akbarpour says. “KelaseDars is the most meaningful thing I’ve done with my life.”

And here:

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Kidney matching podcast: Jeremiah Johnson interviews me and Josh Morrison

On the Neoliberal Podcast (49 minutes):
Kidney Matching featuring Dr Alvin Roth & Josh Morrison

Josh Morrison, who donated one of his kidneys as a non-directed donor, is a founder of Waitlist Zero.

The audio connection seemed to change my voice a bit: here's an unusual comment, forwarded to me by a twitter-literate colleague:
Dr Roth has the velvetiest voice I’ve ever heard

(if you find voices entertaining, you can compare it to the audio in yesterday's post, where I thought I sounded more like myself.)

Friday, February 8, 2019

Kidney exchange chains and altruistic kidney donation on PBS newshour

PBS economics correspondent Paul Solman interviews non-directed kidney donors, and kidney exchange patients, and me, in yesterday's PBS newshour.

Here's a link to video of the 10 minute segment on kidneys, including a transcript.
How an economist’s idea to create kidney transplant chains has saved lives

and here's the video itself:

The show talks about how a single altruistic donor can initiate a long chain of kidney transplants that helps many people.

The kidney exchange organization that started non-simultaneous non-directed donor chains is the Alliance for Paired Donation, run by Mike Rees, and I think that they still organize the longest chains, i.e. the ones with the highest average number of transplants.  

The very first long chain was reported in this article in the New England Journal of Medicine:

Rees, Michael A., Jonathan E. Kopke, Ronald P. Pelletier, Dorry L. Segev, Matthew E. Rutter, Alfredo J. Fabrega, Jeffrey Rogers, Oleh G. Pankewycz, Janet Hiller, Alvin E. Roth, Tuomas Sandholm, Utku Ünver, and Robert A. Montgomery, “A Non-Simultaneous Extended Altruistic Donor Chain,” New England Journal of Medicine, 360;11, March 12, 2009

Here's the full hour-long newshour: kidneys are from about minute 34:46 to minute 44:38 on the video below.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Michel Balinski (1933-2019)

Michel Balinski, perhaps best known for his work on the design of voting systems*, has passed away.
Here's the announcement:

"INFORMS is saddened to share the passing of Michel Balinski, a long-time INFORMS member and a major figure in operations research, mathematics, economics, and political science. Balinski is best known for bringing O.R. methodology to bear on the electoral process, for which he is recognized as the inventor of several fair voting and representation systems. We invite you to share remembrances, photos, and other thoughts on this post, and to learn more about Michel Balinski's incredible career and contributions to the field. His full biography is available under INFORMS History of O.R. and Excellence on"

*See e.g.
Fair Representation: Meeting the Ideal of One Man, One Vote  
By Michel L. Balinski, H. Peyton Young

Philly and Feds at odds over reducing opioid overdoses

Here's the story from NPR:

U.S. Prosecutors Sue To Stop Nation's First Supervised Injection Site For Opioids

"After months of threats, federal prosecutors in Philadelphia launched a legal challenge on Wednesday against the nonprofit Safehouse, which is hoping to open what could be the nation's first site where people with opioid addiction can use drugs under medical supervision.

"The civil lawsuit, which is jointly being pursued by Pennsylvania-based prosecutors and the Department of Justice in Washington, is the first time the federal government has intervened in the hotly debated issue of supervised injection sites. The lawsuit could become an important legal test case as about a dozen cities across the country consider similar proposals.
"The provision of the law in question is widely known as the crack house statute. It makes it illegal to maintain a space for the purpose of making, storing, distributing or using an illegal drug. Safehouse would not make or provide opioids to users. But it would allow people to bring in their own drugs, to use while being monitored by medical staff."

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Transplant statistics (through 2016) from the 2018 USRDS annual data report

The United States Renal Data System. 2018 USRDS annual data report  has come out. It seems to cover data through 2016.  Here are the bullet points on transplantation.

Chapter 6: Transplantation

  • In 2016, 20,161 kidney transplants were performed in the United States (19,301 were kidney-alone; Figure 6.6).
  • Fewer than a third (28%) of kidneys transplanted in 2016 were from living donors (Figure 6.6).
  • From 2015 to 2016, the cumulative number of recipients with a functioning kidney transplant increased by 3.4%, from 208,032 to a total of 215,061 (Figure 6.7).
  • On December 31, 2016, the kidney transplant waiting list had 81,418 candidates on dialysis, 51,238 (62.9%) of whom were active. Eighty-five percent of all candidates were awaiting their first transplant (Figure 6.1).
  • Among Candidates newly wait-listed for either a first or repeat kidney-alone transplant (living or deceased-donor) during 2011, the median waiting time to transplant was 4.0 years (Figure 6.4). This waiting time varied greatly by region of the country, from a low of 1.4 years in Nebraska to a high of 5.1 years in Georgia (Reference Table E.2.2).
  • Unadjusted rates of kidney transplantation among dialysis patients had been declining since at least 2006 for candidates for both living and deceased donors. These appear to have stabilized as of 2013, at about 2.5 per 100 dialysis patient-years for recipients from deceased donors and about 1.0 per 100 dialysis patient-years for recipients from living donors (Figure 6.8).
  • The number of deceased kidney donors, aged 1-74 years, with at least one kidney retrieved increased by 62.7%, from 5,981 in 2001 to 9,732 in 2016 (Figure 6.19.a).
  • The rate of kidney donation from deceased Blacks/African Americans nearly doubled from 2002 to 2016, from 4.5 to 7.9 donations per 1,000 deaths (Figure 6.21.b). This rate overtook that of Whites in 2009. Asians consistently had the highest rate of deceased kidney donation during this time, at about 9 per 1,000 deaths.
  • Since 1999, Whites have had the highest rate of living kidney donation, although this has been in decline along with all other races except Asians, who as of 2016 showed rates of living donation essentially equivalent to Whites (Figure 6.16.b).
  • Eighteen percent of kidneys recovered from deceased donors were discarded in 2016; this rate has increased slightly since 2010.
  • The number of kidney paired donation transplants has risen sharply since 2005, with 642 performed in 2016, which represented 11% of living-donor transplants that year. The rate plateaued during 2012-2014 but increased again in 2016 (Figure 6.18).*
  • Since 1999, the probabilities of graft survival have improved among recipients of both living and deceased-donor kidney transplants, over both the short-term (one-year survival) and long-term (five and ten-year survival) (Figure 6.25).
  • In 2015, the probabilities of one-year graft survival were 93% for deceased and 98% for living-donor kidney transplant recipients (Figure 6.25).
  • In 2015, the probabilities of patient survival within one-year post-transplant were 96% and 99% of deceased- and living-donor kidney transplant recipients (Figure 2.6).
  • The one-year graft-survival and patient-survival advantages experienced by living-donor transplant recipients persisted at five and ten years post-transplant (Figures 6.25 and 6.26).

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Repugnance in Spain: surrogacy and prostitution

I've relatively recently started to pay attention to repugnance in Spain, here are some useful older links.

From El Pais:
Spain struggles with surrogate pregnancy issue
Practice is illegal here but debate rages over whether surrogacy is a right or a form of exploitation

From la Asociación por la Gestación Subrogada en España
Sobre la Gestación Subrogada

GT "In our country the surrogate pregnancy is illegal: Article 10 of Law 14/2006, of May 26, on Techniques of Assisted Human Reproduction establishes that the contract by which gestation is agreed, with or without price, in charge of a woman who renounces maternal filiation in favor of the contracting party or third party is null and void. 

"However, the Instruction of October 5, 2010 of the General Directorate of Registries and Notaries has left without effective content the prohibition of surrogate pregnancy by contemplating the registration in the Civil Registry of children of this technique provided that the procedure has been carried out in a country where this technique is regulated, that one of the parents is Spanish and that there is a court order that guarantees, among other aspects, the rights of the pregnant woman. The name of this woman will not appear in the annotation made in our records.

"This creates an important discrimination between those Spaniards who can afford treatment outside our borders and those who can not."

From Bright Magazine;
Decriminalizing Sex Work in Spain Made It Safer For Women — and Traffickers
Thirty years ago, most sex workers were Spanish. Today almost 90 percent are immigrants, most under the control of organized crime networks.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Kidney exchange in Israel using Itai Ashlagi's software

My colleague Itai Ashlagi has been inventing, building, distributing and updating state of the art kidney exchange software ever since he came to Harvard, some years ago. Since then he's been at MIT, and now Stanford, but this recent article from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency about how his software is propagating in Israel still thinks he's at Harvard:

New program finds donors for complicated kidney transplant patients

"JERUSALEM (JTA) — Kidney transplant patients who have had a hard time finding a match will have another opportunity through a new unit at an Israeli hospital.

"Kidney transplant patients who suffer from high levels of antibodies due to previous transplants or blood donations can go for many years without finding a suitable donor. A new and advanced software program can be used to cross-check through advanced information systems from hospitals in Israel and around the world.

"The program, developed by Professor Itai Ashlagi of Harvard University, was donated to the Matnat Chaim organization and will be operated out of Beilinson Hospital’s Department of Transplantation in Petach Tikvah, in central Israel."

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Kim Krawiec on repugnance, and global kidney exchange

Kim Krawiec talks about podcasts, and then about repugnance with some of her old podcast pals at Oral Argument.  They talk about global kidney exchange (the short title they propose to her is "more kidneys, more better," around minute 5:30 when the substantive discussion starts).


Kim blogs about this herself over at the Faculty Lounge:
Repugnance, Global Kidney Exchange, and Drinking Our Own Spit: An Oral Argument Reunion

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Medically assisted death

The Guardian and the BBC bring us up to date on death with dignity in the Netherlands.

Here are some excerpts from the Guardian's long read:

Death on demand: has euthanasia gone too far?
Countries around the world are making it easier to choose the time and manner of your death. But doctors in the world’s euthanasia capital are starting to worry about the consequences
By Christopher de Bellaigue

"Keizer is one of around 60 physicians on the books of the Levenseindekliniek, or End of Life Clinic, which matches doctors willing to perform euthanasia with patients seeking an end to their lives, and which was responsible for the euthanasia of some 750 people in 2017. For Keizer, who was a philosopher before studying medicine, the advent of widespread access to euthanasia represents a new era. “For the first time in history,” he told me, “we have developed a space where people move towards death while we are touching them and they are in our midst. That’s completely different from killing yourself when your wife’s out shopping and the kids are at school and you hang yourself in the library – which is the most horrible way of doing it, because the wound never heals.
"Euthanasia has been legal in the Netherlands for long enough to show what can happen after the practice beds in.
"In 2002, the parliament in the Hague legalised euthanasia for patients experiencing “unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement”. Since then, euthanasia and its close relation, assisted dying, in which one person facilitates the suicide of another, have been embraced by Belgium and Canada, while public opinion in many countries where it isn’t on the national statute, such as Britain, the US and New Zealand, has swung heavily in favour.

"The momentum of euthanasia appears unstoppable; after Colombia, in 2015, and the Australian state of Victoria, in 2017, Spain may be the next big jurisdiction to legalise physician-assisted death, while one in six Americans (the majority of them in California) live in states where it is legal. In Switzerland, which has the world’s oldest assisted dying laws, foreigners are also able to obtain euthanasia.
"Euthanasia is counted as a basic health service, covered by the monthly premium that every citizen pays to his or her insurance company. But doctors are within their rights not to carry it out. Unique among medical procedures, a successful euthanasia isn’t something you can assess with your patient after the event. A small minority of doctors refuse to perform it for this reason, and others because of religious qualms. Some simply cannot get their heads around the idea that they must kill people they came into medicine in order to save.
"At any meeting organised by the NVVE [Dutch Voluntary Euthanasia Society], you will look in vain for poor people, pious Christians or members of the Netherlands’ sizeable Muslim minority. Borne along by the ultra-rational spirit of Dutch libertarianism (the spirit that made the Netherlands a pioneer in reforming laws on drugs, sex and pornography), the Dutch euthanasia scene also exudes a strong whiff of upper-middle class entitlement.

"Over coffee I was introduced to Steven Pleiter, the director of the Levenseindekliniek. We went outside and basked in the early October sun as he described the “shift in mindset” he is trying to achieve. Choosing his words with care, Pleiter said he hoped that in future doctors will feel more confident accommodating demands for “the most complex varieties of euthanasia, like psychiatric illnesses and dementia” – not through a change in the law, he added, but through a kind of “acceptance … that grows and grows over the years”. When I asked him if he understood the scruples of those doctors who refuse to perform euthanasia because they entered their profession in order to save lives, he replied: “If the situation is unbearable and there is no prospect of improvement, and euthanasia is an option, it would be almost unethical [of a doctor] not to help that person.”
"Even those who have grave worries about the slippery slope concede that consensual euthanasia for terminal illness can be a beautiful thing, and that the principle of death at a time of one’s choosing can fit into a framework of care. The question for any country contemplating euthanasia legislation is whether the practice must inevitably expand – in which case, as Agnes van der Heide recognises, death will eventually “get a different meaning, be appreciated differently”. In the Netherlands many people would argue that – for all the current wobbles – that process is now irreversible."

And here's a link and a figure from the BBC story, which concentrates on the difficult case of dementia--difficult because even the clearest directive from a patient with early stage dementia who wants to end his or her life as the disease progresses can often not be confirmed by the patient once dementia is fully established.

Wanting to die at 'five to midnight' - before dementia takes over

Friday, February 1, 2019

Colleges harvest signals of interest in more ways

Congested markets--those in which there are more potential transactions than can be easily processed--promote signaling, and the search for signals, about which transactions to pursue.  College admissions is a famously congested market, particularly since it became easy for students to submit many applications. So all but the most elite colleges have long searched for signals of "demonstrated interest."  The WSJ has an update on how technology is changing that search.

The Data Colleges Collect on Applicants
To determine ‘demonstrated interest,’ some schools are tracking how quickly prospective students open email and whether they click links  By Douglas Belkin

"Enrollment officers at schools including Seton Hall University, Quinnipiac College and Dickinson College know down to the second when prospective students opened an email from the school, how long they spent reading it and whether they clicked through to any links. Boston University knows if prospective students RSVP’d online to an event—and then didn’t show.
"At Seton Hall University, in South Orange, N.J., students receive a score between 1 and 100 that reflects their demonstrated interest, said Alyssa McCloud, vice president of enrollment management. The score includes about 80 variables including how long they spent on the school’s website, whether they opened emails and at what point in high school they started looking on the website (the earlier the better).
"In 2017, 37% of 493 schools surveyed by the National Association of College Admission Counseling said they consider demonstrated interest to be of moderate importance—on par with teacher recommendations, class rank and extracurricular activities. It carried less weight than grades, class rigor or board scores.
"Colleges also have low-tech means to help determine demonstrated interest. Last year, one third of students who applied to American University either visited its Washington, D.C., campus or attended an information session about the school, said Andrea Felder, assistant vice provost for undergraduate admissions. Two thirds of those admitted took part in either the campus tour or offsite information session.
"Mary Hinton, a senior at Dickinson College, benefited from demonstrated interested without knowing it. After she toured Dickinson in high school, she sent a thank-you note to her tour guide, at her mother’s suggestion.

Now a tour-guide herself, Ms. Hinton has learned those notes are forwarded from tour guides to admissions officers. Her advice to prospective students about thank-you notes: “Write them. It just takes a minute and it can make a difference.”