Thursday, January 23, 2020

Conference on Mechanism design for vulnerable populations in April at Pitt--call for papers: Update--Postponed!

Here's the call for papers:

Call for papers: 2020 NSF/CEME Decentralization Conference
Mechanism Design for Vulnerable Populations
April 17-19, 2020

Center for Analytical Approaches to Social Innovation (CAASI)
Graduate School of Public and International A airs
University of Pittsburgh

Submission Deadline: Friday, January 31th, 2020

The goal of this conference is to apply and extend mechanism design to the practical needs of institutions that serve vulnerable populations. These populations pose conceptual and technical challenges for the designer due to the high stakes decision making environments, complex constraints on agents' action space, and the cumulative effects of disadvantaged participation in previous mechanisms. We welcome both theoretical and empirical approaches.

The field of mechanism design has played a significant role in designing public sector allocative mechanisms, making important contributions to the FCC spectrum auctions, the creation of electricity markets, school matching algorithms, and more. Recently, scholars have begun to apply the tools of mechanism design towards institutions that serve vulnerable populations such as the construction of social safety nets. This endeavour will be challenging. Whether it is families facing housing insecurity, returning veterans, or the previously incarcerated, the daily struggles of these individuals are often unobserved by the designer, making it difficult to form accurate assumptions about agent types, action spaces, or perceptions of the mechanism. For vulnerable populations, small behavioral deviations or changes in allocations can result in dramatic differences, e.g. a missed car payment resulting in a job loss. In addition, marginalization is often the cumulative outcome of a sequence of mechanisms: the housing market affecting a child's school choice, which constrains his options in the job market, which in turn affects his outcome in the criminal justice system.

For the conference, we seek theoretical and empirical papers that try to bridge the gap between mechanism design theory and the needs of vulnerable population. Topics could include (but are not limited to):
* General theoretical papers on behavioral mechanism design and robust mechanism design
* Social work: service referral, adoption / foster care, transition to workforce, substance abuse treatments, mentoring programs
* Basic needs: low-income housing, housing integration by income and identity, food banks
* Education (school matching), transportation (route selection, transport markets) and criminal justice
* Public goods, participatory democracy and budgeting mechanisms

Submissions will be accepted until Friday, January 31th, 2020. Full papers are preferred, but extended abstracts will also be considered. Please email all submissions to with the subject line Decentralization Submission. We will announce the conference program by Friday, February 14, 2020. All participants should confirm their attendance by Friday February 21, 2020.

Sera Linardi (University of Pittsburgh)
Jinyong Jeong (University of Pittsburgh)
Scott E. Page (University of Michigan)

Program Committee:
Rediet Abebe (Harvard University)
Yan Chen (University of Michigan)
Selman Erol (Carnegie Mellon University)
Osea Giuntella (University of Pittsburgh)
Daniel Jones (University of Pittsburgh)
John Ledyard (California Institute of Technology)
Irene Lo (Stanford University)
Adam Kapor (Princeton University)
Luca Rigotti (University of Pittsburgh)
Utku Unver (Boston College)
Richard Van Weelden (University of Pittsburgh)
M. Bumin Yenmez (Boston College)

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