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...)

The resident match can be confusing, in PNAS by Alex Rees-Jones and Samuel Skowronek

Here's a recent paper in PNAS, |
An experimental investigation of preference misrepresentation in the residency match
Alex Rees-Jones and Samuel Skowronek

"The development and deployment of matching procedures that incentivize truthful preference reporting is considered one of the major successes of market design research. In this study, we test the degree to which these procedures succeed in eliminating preference misrepresentation. We administered an online experiment to 1,714 medical students immediately after their participation in the medical residency match—a leading field application of strategy-proof market design. When placed in an analogous, incentivized matching task, we find that 23% of participants misrepresent their preferences. We explore the factors that predict preference misrepresentation, including cognitive ability, strategic positioning, overconfidence, expectations, advice, and trust. We discuss the implications of this behavior for the design of allocation mechanisms and the social welfare in markets that use them

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Black markets for marijuana in Canada, where marijuana is now legal

Here are some accounts of the bumpy road to a thick legal market for marijuana:

From the NY Times, on how stores continue to sell not yet legalized products still available on the black market:
Vancouver, Canada’s Marijuana Capital, Struggles to Tame the Black Market

From the Guardian, on the shortage of legal product in face of strong demand:
Weed woes: Canada struggles to meet huge demand for legal cannabis
Numerous stores dealing with empty shelves and disgruntled customers, with fears many consumers will turn to black market

“Now that we can’t supply them, they’re still going to find it,” [a legal supplier with empty shelves] said. “There’s no shortage of weed in Labrador City. Just the legal stuff.”

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.