Sunday, March 31, 2013

Organs and Inducements at Duke

I was talked into going to what turned out to be a wonderful conference.  The modal participant was a law professor, but here's a photo of economists and a surgeon:

Judd Kessler, Jay Lavee, Al Roth, Avi Stoler

Kim Krawiec posts about the conference at the Faculty Lounge: I reproduce her post below...

"Organs & Inducements

I, of course, meant to post this in advance of the symposium, but underestimated the amount of time and attention last minute details would consume (what’s that phrase about older but not wiser?).  So I’m just getting to it now. 

Anyway, I think that the event was a big success and I will have more to say about it in the coming days.  For now, I’ll just post the symposium abstract, along with a thanks to all the many wonderful participants who made this event a success. 
More to follow . . .
Symposium Abstract:
The need for human organs for transplantation far outstrips supply. As a result, a large literature has developed debating possible means to address the gap. Suggestions range from procurement system improvements and changes in the consent regime, in the case of cadaveric organ donation, to inventive exchange systems (such as swaps and NEAD chains) and financial incentives of various sorts, in the case of live organ donation.
In Organs and Inducements, contributors build on existing debates on mechanisms designed to bridge the gap between organ demand and supply, to address deeper questions regarding inducements to donate.   Among the varied possible mechanisms of persuasion and incentives at society’s disposal, what are the relative advantages and disadvantages of each?  What are the larger ethical, economic, sociological, and psychological issues raised by these different types of inducements, including non-financial inducements?  Why are some accepted by the law and society at large, while others are not?  Do the lines we’ve drawn among permissible and impermissible inducements make sense, given the concerns those rules are meant to address?"
Update: here's a further post today by Kim K., on the origins of the conference (and why they chose the word "inducements" rather than "incentives": More Organs & Inducements 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Video of my recent talk at the SIEPR economic summit

Here I was: speaking on Friday March 15, 2013.

Friday, March 29, 2013

"Horse meat is the Tatar's Viagra"

While horse meat may be repugnant in some places, the controversy over horse meat in Russia is over how to prepare it: Appreciation of the Horse, Well-Cooked

"In parts of Russia and throughout Central Asia, horse is a central feature in traditional cuisine and is considered almost mandatory on special occasions.
"Mr. Nasyrov buys much of his horse meat from trusted local producers in Tatarstan, the heavily Muslim region east of Moscow where, he said, residents ascribe even greater attributes to eating horse.

“Horse meat,” he said, “is the Tatar’s Viagra.”

You can buy canned horse meat here.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Furniture in Foshan

When I spoke in Foshan China, I got an opportunity to see one of the big furniture markets in that city, this one run by the Louvre Group:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Beijing East Linden Co.

While in Beijing I visited the East Linden Company, which is making a market for intellectual property by producing a high-tech searchable database of traditional medicines. Visiting them felt a lot like visiting a Silicon Valley start up (e.g. they run their own automatic translation server, and you can search their database by starting with a molecule...)

The chairwoman, Madame Yanhuai Liu graciously agreed to let me take this photo of her, next to two pictures in her office of her mother and father, a general who went on the Long March.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My names in Chinese transliteration

Irwin Rose, Irvine Ross, and Elvin Ross all appear in the Google Translate version of this story  (2012诺奖得主:中国经济需要市场设计   2012 Nobel laureate: Chinese economy needs a market designabout a talk I gave in Beijing.

Here's one version of my name in Chinese, which I gather lends itself to the "Ross" pronunciation:

Monday, March 25, 2013

Stanford's student senate rejects an anti-Israel divestment resolution

The Stanford Daily has the story of the contentious and lengthy debate: Undergraduate Senate votes against divestmentbill

The resolution failed handily: the newspaper account also gives in passing a picture of Stanford's diverse student Senate:
"[the divestment] bill did not pass, with seven senators in opposition, five abstaining and one in support of the bill.
"Senator Janhavi Vartak ’15 voted in favor. Senators Anna Brezhneva ’15, Brandon Hightower ’15, Garima Sharma ’15, Bindra, Miller, Olivos and Pham voted against. Senators Fadavi, Bacon, Crouch, Haveles and Menjivar abstained."

A number of faculty members and well known personalities from the wider world sent messages both for and against divestment. The SD has that story too: two market designers were mentioned as being against the proposal. The full statements of many of those who went on record as opposing divestment can be found on the page of the Stanford Israel Alliance  Mine is here, and Yoav Shoham's is a short scroll down..

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Matching and Market Design: Bob Wilson and Mary Kline

Matching is important, and I returned from a trip to China just in time to attend the wedding of the Dean of Design, my advisor Bob Wilson, and Mary Kline.

Mazel tov, Bob and Mary!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Call for papers: May 4 Bay Area Behavioral and Experimental Economics Workshop

Call for Papers
Bay Area Behavioral and Experimental Economics Workshop
Saturday May 4, 2013, University of San Francisco

The Bay Area Behavioral Economics and Experimental Workshop (BABEEW) will be hosted this year by the University of San Francisco on Saturday, May 4th 2012, in Fromm Hall (

The objective of the workshop is to provide an opportunity for Bay Area researchers in behavioral economics and related fields to share their latest research.
All interested researchers are invited to submit an abstract for presentation. We would also appreciate it if you could advertise this call for papers in your department and inform interested faculty members and students.
There will be breakfast, coffee breaks, lunch, and dinner paid for by the sponsors*. We reserved the Koret Rec Center parking lot free all day (!) ( Participants will need to cover any other travel or accommodation expenses. Hotel at a walkable distance: Stanyan Park Hotel (let’s say it is full of old times charm).
The deadline for submitting an abstract (250 words or less) is Friday, April 5th 2013. Acceptance decisions will be e-mailed to registered participants by Friday, April 19th. The workshop program will be e-mailed to registered participant by April 25th.

To submit and register:
BABEEW Scientific Committee
Alessandra Cassar              Univ. of San Francisco
Dan Friedman                     UC, Santa Cruz
John Ifcher
                        Santa Clara University
Linda Kamas
                    Santa Clara University
John Morgan                       UC, Berkeley
Charles Sprenger                Stanford University

*We gratefully acknowledge funding from the International Association for Research in Economic Psychology (IAREP), the Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Economics (SABE), and the International Confederation for the Advancement of Behavioral Economics and Economic Psychology (ICABEEP).

Friday, March 22, 2013

Exchanges for digital goods

The NY Times has the story: Imagining a Swap Meet for E-Books and Music

"In late January, Amazon received a patent to set up an exchange for all sorts of digital material. The retailer would presumably earn a commission on each transaction, and consumers would surely see lower prices.

"But a shudder went through publishers and media companies. Those who produce content might see their work devalued, just as they did when Amazon began selling secondhand books 13 years ago. The price on the Internet for many used books these days is a penny.

"On Thursday, the United States Patent and Trademark Office published Apple’s application for its own patent for a digital marketplace. Apple’s application outlines a system for allowing users to sell or give e-books, music, movies and software to each other by transferring files rather than reproducing them. Such a system would permit only one user to have a copy at any one time.

"Meanwhile, a New York court is poised to rule on whether a start-up that created a way for people to buy and sell iTunes songs is breaking copyright law. A victory for the company would mean that consumers would not need either Apple’s or Amazon’s exchange to resell their digital items. Electronic bazaars would spring up instantly.

“The technology to allow the resale of digital goods is now in place, and it will cause a dramatic upheaval,” said Bill Rosenblatt, president of GiantSteps, a technology consulting firm. “In the short term, it’s great for consumers. Over the long term, however, it could seriously reduce creators’ incentive to create.”

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Treadmill desk

Not for everyone, but I enjoy mine when I'm in my office at Stanford:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sun Yat-Sen Business School in Foshan, China

Nobel Economics Laureate Alvin Roth Visiting Foshan, China

Source:External Liaison Office     Hits:26     Time: 2013-03-06 08:45

Sun Yat-sen Business School, Time Weekly
Market Design, China Opportunity  Transformation, Promotion and Market Design

14:00 – 17:00, March 20, 2013
Louvre International Furniture Exhibition Center, Foshan, China
1. Market Design in Chinese Style
2. Market Design, Matching Theory and Enterprise Operation
Keynote Speakers
1. Alvin Roth, Professor of Harvard Business School, 2012 Nobel Economics Laureate
2. Yadong LUO, Emery Findlay Distinguished Chair and Professor of Management, University of Miami, International Dean of SYSBS

30 – 1430  Reception
30 – 1440  Conference Welcome
40 – 1540  Keynote Speech
40 – 1600  Coffee Break
00 – 1700  Round Table Forum

Keynote Speakers

Alvin Roth

Alvin Elliot Roth is an American economist and George Gund Professor of Economics and Business Administration at Harvard Business School.
Roth has made significant contributions to the fields of game theory, market design and experimental economics, and is known for his emphasis on applying his economic theory to solutions for "real-world" problems.
In 2012, he won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences jointly with Lloyd Shapley "for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design".

Yadong LUO

Dr. Yadong LUO is International Dean and Distinguished Honorary Professor of SYSBS. He is the Emery M. Findley Distinguished Chair of Graduate Business Studies and Professor of Management at University of Miami. He is also an elected Fellow of Academy of International Business.
LUO has emerged as the world's top research scholar in international management since the mid-90s. He has published over 150 articles in major refereed journals in international business and management, including AMJ, ASQ, AMR, SMJ, JIBS, JAP, Org. Science, among others. He also authored more than a dozen books and about a hundred other publications. His research interests include global corporate strategy, global corporate governance, international joint ventures, and management in emerging economies, among others.
LUO's research record includes seminal pieces on important and timely topics, such as co-opetition in international business, business-government relationships, cross-cultural cooperative strategies, multinational enterprises in emerging markets, and international expansion of emerging market enterprises. He currently is a consulting editor of JIBS, editor of JWB, and senior editor of MOR. He is the recipient of a dozen research and teaching awards at U. of Miami and U. of Hawaii where he taught before joining UM.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Organ donation and Islam: Saudi scholar registers as organ donor

In Iran there's a monetary market for kidneys, but elsewhere in the Islamic world (and elsewhere) some have questions about organ transplantation of any sort. In Saudi Arabia, a top religious scholar has signed up as an organ donor, to make his position clear.

Sunday 10 March 2013
Last Update 9 March 2013 11:55 pm
Sheikh Abdullah Al-Mutlaq, member of the Board of Senior Ulema and Royal Court Adviser, has signed up as an organ donor in a move to end the debate over organ donation permissibility in Islam.
Al-Mutlaq attended a symposium on organ donation organized by the Specialist Hospital in Riyadh. Currently, three to four organ transplant operations are conducted daily.
Kidney donations from non-relatives increased by 10 percent, which resulted in 73 more donation cases last year, while liver transplants increased by the same percentage, roughly equivalent to 30 more operations, said Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, supervisor general of the Prince Fahad bin Salman Charity Association for Renal Failure Patients Care (Kellana) who attended the event.
Prince Abdulaziz said that in the last 30 years, more than 7,000 people had kidney transplants and more than 1,000 had liver transplants. There were 94 reported lung transplants, 228 heart transplants, 663 cornea transplants and 19 pancreas transplant operations in the same period.
Sheikh Saleh bin Humaid, member of the Board of Senior Ulemas and imam of the Grand Mosque, said that organ donation permissibility is decided in terms of Shariah, although it is crucial to be sure that the prospective donor is pronounced brain dead, which is an issue that still needs more research.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fewer Israelis seeking transplants abroad: more live donations at home

New laws have limited transplants overseas, and have provided some payments to living donors in Israel.  Haaretz has the story (may be gated):
"Law meant to prevent organ trafficking passed in 2008 also means the number of transplants within the country, as well as the percentage of Haredi men seeking to donate for altruistic reasons, is on the upswing; more women serve as live donors than men."

"The number of Israelis seeking kidney transplants abroad is plummeting, in the wake of a 2008 law meant to prevent organ trafficking.

"In 2007, 143 Israelis received kidney transplants abroad, but according to Health Ministry statistics, that number took a nosedive to 35 in 2011.

"The sharp decline comes as a result of more stringent guidelines for transplants; since the law was passed, HMOs have approved funding for kidney transplants abroad only from cadavers in the United States, Russia and Latvia.

"While transplants abroad have dropped, the new Organ Transplant Law has also led to a 50-percent increase in kidney transplants from live donors in Israel. A new study conducted at Beilinson Hospital and at Tel Aviv University found that the law, which both prohibits the sale of organs but also – in a first-time ruling – allows live donors to receive monetary compensation, has led to a significant change in the mix of such donors. Haredi men are now seeking, via the law, to donate kidneys for altruistic reasons. In these cases, the donors are not related to the patients.

"The payment of donors under the new law, amounting to thousands of shekels, began in August 2010, covering all live organ donors in Israel from May 2008. At the same time, statistics provided by the National Transplant Center showed a steep increase of 64 percent in the number of live kidney donors in 2011 (117 transplants) as compared with 2010 (71). The number of transplants in 2012 (108) was at a similar level.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pictures with President Obama

Before the Nobel ceremonies in Stockholm, the five 2012 American Nobel laureates were invited to meet with President Obama in the Oval Office.  These pictures arrived in the mail not long ago.

Handshake: Lloyd Shapley and his son Peter are right behind me.

6 American Nobel laureates and a President

A few thoughts:

The United States does very well in Nobel prizes. It's probably good for us that the prizes are given by Swedish institutions and not American ones.

An American president spends a lot of time with the White House photographer. (You wonder when a newly elected president learns just how much of his time will be spent having his picture taken.)

The pictures each came with a sticker on the back saying that they were not to be disseminated without permission. I asked for and immediately received permission  from the White House Photo Office to post these on my blog (in an email from Rick McKay, 2/21/13).

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Yesterday was match day for NYC high school students too

New doctors weren't the only ones matched yesterday, so were members of the freshman class for New York City high schools.

Here's a story about New York City high school students: Most Eighth Graders Matched to a High School of Their Choice, and here's another: DOE: Most students admitted to their top NYC high school choices

And here's the NRMP's account of yesterday's residency match, and a story from NPR.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Match Day today for new doctors

Good luck to all those matching today!

Here's the Wall Street Journal's anticipatory story: New Doctors Eagerly Await 'Match Day'

"The National Resident Matching Program, the nonprofit group that pairs applicants with openings, expects this year's match to be the largest ever, surpassing last year when 31,355 U.S. and foreign applicants vied for 24,035 first-year residency openings."

Here's the NRMP's press release:

The National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®) will announce the 2013 medical residency Match results for more than 17,000 United States allopathic medical school seniors and more than 16,000 other applicants on Friday, March 15, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. EDT. Match Day, an annual rite of passage, is when medical school students learn where they will live and train for the next three to seven years at their medical residency programs.
“It’s a wonderful and exciting day,” said Mona M. Signer, executive director of the NRMP. She added, “We are honored to play a small role each year in moving forward the careers of young physicians.”
U. S. senior medical students typically begin the residency application process at the beginning of their final year in medical school. After they apply to programs, programs review applications and invite selected candidates for interviews, which are held in the fall and early winter. Once the interview period is over, both parties create rank-order lists. Programs rank applicants in order of preference, and applicants compile their lists based on their preferred medical specialty and the location of the training programs.
The NRMP matching algorithm pairs the preferences of applicants with the preferences of residency programs, producing a “best result” in order to fill the available training positions at U.S. teaching hospitals. Research about the NRMP algorithm was a basis of Dr. Alvin Roth’s receipt of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics.
Students and graduates of international medical schools, osteopathic (D.O. degree) schools, and Canadian candidates also participate in the Match. Last year more than 38, 377 applicants vied for positions, and the NRMP reported a 95% successful NRMP Match result for U. S. seniors.
For more information on this year’s Match results, please visit after 1:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, March 15, or contact your local medical school for details on their Match Day ceremonies.

Here's the schedule:
March 15, 2013
Match Day! Match results for applicants are posted to Web site at 1:00 p.m. eastern time.
Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) concludes at 5:00 p.m. eastern time.
March 16, 2013
Hospitals begin sending letters of appointment to matched applicants after this date.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

SIEPR Economic Summit 2013 at Stanford

Tomorrow , March 15  is the SIEPR Economic Summit 2013 at Stanford.

Moderator: Steve Kohlhagen, Member, SIEPR Advisory Board
7:30 – 8:00 Breakfast 

8:00 – 9:00 Opening Remarks: Mohamed El-Erian, CEO and co-CIO, PIMCO

9:00 – 10:20 SESSION I: Comprehensive Tax Reform 
Moderator: Jim Poterba, President, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Mitsui Professor of Economics, MIT; Member, SIEPR Advisory Board
Glenn Hubbard, Dean, Columbia Business School; former chair of the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA)
Leonard Burman, Daniel Patrick Moynihan Professor of Public Affairs, Maxwell School, Syracuse University

10:40 – 12:00 SESSION II: Health Policy After Obamacare 
Mark McClellan, MD, PhD, Director, Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform and Leonard D. Schaeffer Chair in Health Policy Studies, The Brookings Institution
Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD, Diane V.S. Levy and Robert M. Levy University Professor; Professor of Health Care Management; and Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Wharton; Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

12:00 – 12:45 Lunch 
12:45 – 1:30 Lunch Remarks 
David Wessel, Author, Red Ink (Random House 2012); Economics Editor, The Wall Street Journal; and Pulitzer Prize Winner

1:50 – 3:10 SESSION III: The Future of Europe
John Lipsky, Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University; Member, SIEPR Advisory Board
Janice Eberly, Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy, Department of the Treasury

3:10 – 4:10 SESSION IV: Who Gets What: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design 
Alvin Roth, Craig and Susan McCaw Professor of Economics, Stanford University; 2012 Nobel Laureate, Economics; Senior Fellow, SIEPR

4:30 – 5:45 Critical Issue Sessions - Panels will address four important topics of the year:
Can India Keep Pace?, The Online Learning Revolution, Designing California's New Health Care Exchange, Environment and the Economy

6:00 – 6:45 Reception
6:45 – 9:00 Dinner and Keynote Speaker
Axel Weber, Chairman of the Board, UBS AG; former President, Deutsche Bundesbank

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Boston School Committee votes for "personalized" school districts

Late breaking news, tonight: Boston School Committee approves new student-assignment system (see this mornings post):

"The Boston School Committee tonight scrapped a school assignment plan developed under court-ordered desegregation almost a quarter century ago and approved a system that seeks to allow more students to attend schools closer to home.

Starting in fall 2014, the School Department will do away with three massive student-assignment zones, which it has operated since 1989.

Instead, a complex algorithm will generate a list of schools from which parents could choose based on a variety of factors, such as distance from school, school capacity, and MCAS performance. Parents will receive at least six school choices, including a minimum of four of medium or high-quality.

The committee also voted to do away with the so-called walk preference for schools."

As far as I can tell from a distance, I believe that preferences will still be processed according to the deferred acceptance algorithm my colleagues and I helped a previous school committee to adopt...

Boston reconsiders districts for its school choice system

Boston Public Schools divides schools into districts, and families can rank schools in their district. They have been debating changing the districts by redrawing the map. But drawing maps is hard. They are now considering a proposal for essentially defining a different district for each child, based on the idea of giving each child potential access to schools of different quality. The NY Times has the story today: No Division Required in This School Problem.

The article focuses on contributions by market designers Peng Shi, Parag Pathak, and Tayfun Sonmez.

The School Committee is scheduled to vote on this tonight.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Horse meat in Europe, continuing...

The European scandal over mis-labeled horse meat also reveals something about the cultural variation concerning horses as food, which plays into discussions about the common market...: Recipe for Divided Europe: Add Horse, Then Stir

"the horse meat scandal has brought into the open the deep divisions, cultural and otherwise, that bedevil the European Union. A meat that nearly all Britons consider revolting, for example, is cherished as a protein-rich delight by a small but loyal minority in places like Belgium, the home of the European Union’s Brussels bureaucracy and Europe’s biggest per capita consumer of horse meat. (Italy, with its larger population, eats the most horse over all.)

"For a surging camp of so-called Euroskeptics in Britain, the fact that horse meat has entered the food chain through a host of middlemen and factories scattered across the Continent stands as proof of unbridgeable cultural chasms that, in their view, make the European Union unworkable."
"It has also led a growing number of European food producers and stores to seek shelter in patriotism by assuring consumers that their meat comes entirely from within their own country’s borders. ...

"Growing calls for mandatory “country of origin” labeling on all processed meats sold in Europe have stirred concern in Brussels about a surge in what Mr. Borg, the health and consumer affairs commissioner, has called “veiled protectionism.” Until now, only unprocessed meat had to identify its place of origin.

The Germans are saying we are only going to eat German products. The French are saying the same for French products. What happened to the common market? This is really serious,” said Françoise Grossetête, a French member of the European Parliament."

Monday, March 11, 2013

Marriage markets in China

Brook Larmer writes in the NY Times about the changing marriage market: The Price of Marriage in China (I like the URL better than the headline: it refers to business/in-a-changing-china-new-matchmaking-markets.) Her story (well worth reading in its entirety) follows two marriage markets, one an expensive matchmaking service for wealthy men, one an open air market in a park where mothers seek spouses for their children.

"Ms. Yang, 28, is one of China’s premier love hunters, a new breed of matchmaker that has proliferated in the country’s economic boom. The company she works for, Diamond Love and Marriage, caters to China’s nouveaux riches: men, and occasionally women, willing to pay tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars to outsource the search for their ideal spouse.
"When the woman walked into H & M, Ms. Yang intercepted her in the sweater aisle. “I’m so sorry to bother you,” she said with a honeyed smile. “I’m a love hunter. Are you looking for love?”

Three miles away, in a Beijing park near the Temple of Heaven, a woman named Yu Jia jostled for space under a grove of elms. A widowed 67-year-old pensioner, she was clearing a spot on the ground for a sign she had scrawled for her son. “Seeking Marriage,” read the wrinkled sheet of paper, which Ms. Yu held in place with a few fragments of brick and stone. “Male. Single. Born 1972. Height 172 cm. High school education. Job in Beijing.”

Ms. Yu is another kind of love hunter: a parent seeking a spouse for an adult child in the so-called marriage markets that have popped up in parks across the city. Long rows of graying men and women sat in front of signs listing their children’s qualifications. Hundreds of others trudged by, stopping occasionally to make an inquiry.

Ms. Yu’s crude sign had no flourishes: no photograph, no blood type, no zodiac sign, no line about income or assets. Unlike the millionaire’s wish list, the sign didn’t even specify what sort of wife her son wanted. “We don’t have much choice,” she explained. “At this point, we can’t rule anybody out.”

In the four years she has been seeking a wife for her son, Zhao Yong, there have been only a handful of prospects. Even so, when a woman in a green plastic visor paused to scan her sign that day, Ms. Yu put on a bright smile and told of her son’s fine character and good looks. The woman asked: “Does he own an apartment in Beijing?” Ms. Yu’s smile wilted, and the woman moved on.
"As many as 300 million rural Chinese have moved to cities in the last three decades. Uprooted and without nearby relatives to help arrange meetings with potential partners, these migrants are often lost in the swell of the big city.

"Demographic changes, too, are creating complications. Not only are many more Chinese women postponing marriage to pursue careers, but China’s gender gap — 118 boys are born for every 100 girls — has become one of the world’s widest, fueled in large part by the government’s restrictive one-child policy. By the end of this decade, Chinese researchers estimate, the country will have a surplus of 24 million unmarried men.

"Without traditional family or social networks, many men and women have taken their searches online, where thousands of dating and marriage Web sites have sprung up in an industry that analysts predict will soon surpass $300 million annually. These sites cater mainly to China’s millions of white-collar workers. But intense competition, along with mistrust of potential mates’ online claims, has spurred a growing number of singles — rich and poor — to turn to more hands-on matchmaking services.
"Dozens of high-end matchmaking services have sprung up in China in the last five years, charging big fees to find and to vet prospective spouses for wealthy clients. Their methods can turn into gaudy spectacle. One firm transported 200 would-be trophy wives to a resort town in southwestern China for the perusal of one powerful magnate. Another organized a caravan of BMWs for rich businessmen to find young wives in Sichuan Province. Diamond Love, among the largest love-hunting services, sponsored a matchmaking event in 2009 where 21 men each paid a $15,000 entrance fee.
"The company’s wealthiest, highest-paying clients — 90 percent of whom are men — show little interest in lectures or databases. They want exclusive access to what Ms. Fei coolly refers to as “fresh resources”: young women who haven’t yet been exposed to other suitors online. It’s the love hunters’ job to find them.

"Besides giving clients a vastly expanded pool of marriage prospects, these campaigns offer a sense of security. Rigorous background checks screen out what Ms. Fei calls “gold diggers, liars and people of loose morals.” Depending on a campaign’s size, Diamond Love charges from $50,000 to more than $1 million. Ms. Fei makes no apologies for the high fees.

Why shouldn’t they pay more to find the perfect wife?” she asked me. “This is the most important investment in their lives.”
"One afternoon when we met, the normally animated Ms. Yang slumped onto the sofa, exhausted. She had just spent an hour with a rich Chinese businesswoman in her late 30s. The woman proposed spending $100,000 on a campaign to find a husband who matched her status.

“I had to tell her we couldn’t take her case,” Ms. Yang said. “No wealthy Chinese man would ever marry her. They always want somebody younger, with less power.

"We sat in silence a minute before Ms. Yang spoke again. “It’s depressing to think about these ‘leftover women,’ ” she said. “Do you have them in America, too?”
"The marriage candidates on offer in the parks, she discovered, were often a mismatch of shengnu (“leftover women”) and shengnan (“leftover men”), two groups from opposite ends of the social scale. Shengnan, like her son, are mostly poor rural men left behind as female counterparts marry up in age and social status. The phenomenon is exacerbated by China’s warped demographics, as the bubble of excess men starts to reach marrying age.

Finding a Chinese spouse can be even more challenging for so-called leftover women, even if they often have precisely what the shengnan lack: money, education and social and professional standing. One day in the Temple of Heaven park, I met a 70-year-old pensioner from Anhui Province who was seeking a husband for his eldest daughter, a 36-year-old economics professor in Beijing.

“My daughter is an outstanding girl,” he said, pulling from his satchel an academic book she had published. “She’s been introduced to about 15 men over the past two years, but they all rejected her because her degree is too high.
"Even in the countryside, where men’s families pay bride prices, inflation is rampant. Ms. Yu’s family paid about $3,500 when Mr. Zhao’s older brother married 10 years ago in rural Heilongjiang. Today, she said, brides’ families ask for $30,000, even $50,000. An apartment, the urban equivalent of the bride price, is even further out of reach. At Mr. Zhao’s current income, it would take a decade or two before he could  afford a small Beijing apartment, which he said would start at about $100,000. “I’ll be an old man by then,” he said with a rueful smile.
"Not long after our conversation in McDonald’s, Mr. Zhao met the woman at a coffee shop. It was, he told me later, even more awkward than most first dates. A rural migrant and door-to-door salesman, he struggled to find a shared topic of interest with the woman, a 35-year-old entrepreneur and Beijing native who had arrived driving a BMW sedan.

The lack of chemistry didn’t seem to bother the woman, who told him about her profitable photo business and the three Beijing apartments she owned. Mr. Zhao didn’t find her unattractive, but how was he supposed to respond? Then, even before broaching the possibility of a second date, he said, the woman made a proposition: if they married, he wouldn’t have to work again.
"in the end, he couldn’t imagine being subordinate to a woman. “If I accepted that situation,” he asked me, “what kind of man would I be?
"The news frustrated Ms. Yu. “Kids these days are way too picky,” she said.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

B-School Matchmaking: Job matching one at a time

The WSJ has the story of how Business schools are helping their students find jobs even in firms that may just be trying to fill one or two positions: In Job Hunt, B-Schools Play Matchmaker

"Business schools are exploring a new service: matchmaking.

"After relying for years on assembly line-like interview schedules, career-services offices at some top schools are taking a personalized approach to the student job hunt. Some are beefing up one-on-one advising sessions to help students define career goals, while others are making individual introductions to alumni or sending job postings to student clubs.

"The new tack comes as M.B.A.s consider careers in industries like technology and clean energy, where companies tend to hire one or two students at a time, rather than in large numbers like at finance and consulting firms, traditional B-school employers.

"There's been a complete upending of the model," says Pulin Sanghvi, assistant dean and director of the Career Management Center at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He reorganized the 16-person office last year to strengthen individual advising, alumni relations and connections with new employers, particularly private-equity firms, hedge funds and technology startups.

"Around 80% of the companies that hired Stanford M.B.A.s last year took just one student; only 16 hired four or more."

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Cooper and Kagel on other regarding preferences

John Kagel writes:


Here is the url to the revised version of our survey paper on other regarding preferences intended for the Handbook of Experimental Economics, vol 2 –

We very much appreciate the input we got from the experimental community regarding work we overlooked, faulty interpretations, etc.  Unfortunately we could not, or would not, deal with all of the suggestions/issues raised, otherwise we would never be done.  At this point we would be grateful for any corrections of typos, updated citations, missing citations, etc. 


Friday, March 8, 2013

Cadavers for anatomy classes

You may not have thought much recently about cadaver supply, but there's a shortage, at least at current prices.

"By law, bodies cannot be sold, although groups like the association can be paid for processing. Member med schools pay about $1,300 per cadaver; nonmembers pay $2,300.

"Nationwide, there's a shortage of cadavers, in part because of the rise in organ donation. Cadavers without their organs are not suitable for medical education, Mr. Dudek notes. The association needs about 425 bodies a year for its members but missed that mark in 2009 and has barely met it in three of the last six years.
"“All our donations are done through referral,” says Donald Greene II, who co-owns the Rosemont-based company, with annual revenue of $680,000.
... Mr. Dudek hopes to develop new products, such as skeletons, which sell for up to $7,000. A lab to convert cadavers to plastic would cost about $45,000, money that isn't in the association's budget.

"The retail price for a plastinated cadaver is as much as $200,000, says Niles Mayrand, administrator of the plastination laboratory at the University of Michigan, one of the oldest in the country. Well-known thanks to the “Body Worlds” exhibit, which has been hosted by the Museum of Science and Industry three times since 2005, plastinated bodies increasingly are being used in education. They are unlikely to replace cadavers completely in med schools because they can't be dissected. Nonetheless, Mr. Dudek says he has to prepare for the future.

“Whether or not we're a nonprofit, we're still a business,” he says. “And like any business, you grow and adapt and evolve, or you disappear.”

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The market for air space in Manhattan

The real estate market in Manhattan doesn't just scrape the sky, it hovers over shorter buildings too: The Great Air Race

"Air rights are, in actuality, not fluffy chunks of available or orphaned air. They are unused or excess development rights gauged, like building density or lot size, by the square foot and transferable, when zoning permits it, from one buildable lot to another. They have become the reigning currency of the redevelopment realm, major components in the radical vertical transformation of the city’s skyline.

"These days developers don’t just tailor their blueprints to the lot they own: they often annex, for fees that can run into the multimillions, the airspace above and around their property. The process, essentially an invisible merger of building lots that tranlates into taller, heftier towers with increased profitability, is emerging from a minislump dictated by the economy.

  “The trading of air rights is more prevalent than it’s ever been before,” said Robert Von Ancken, an air-rights expert and appraiser who is the chairman of Landauer Valuation and Advisory Services, “and it’s why you’re seeing these monster buildings springing up all over town. All of these new supertowers that are changing the look of the city’s horizon, they couldn’t happen without air-rights transfers.”

"Mr. Von Ancken estimates that air rights trade for 50 to 60 percent of what the earth beneath them would sell for. "

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Differential Privacy and Economics and the Social Sciences

Differential Privacy and Economics and the Social Sciences


Thursday, March 7, 2013 from 9:00 AM to 9:30 PM (EST)

New York, NY

A day devoted to Economics and Social Sciences and the Science of Privacy will take place onThursday, March 7th in New York City. This event is funded by the Simons Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Tutorial on Differential Privacy 9:30 - 11:30 AM
LOCATION: Simons Foundation
Speaker: Aaron Roth (Computer Science, University of Pennsylvania).

Privacy and Issues in Mechanism Design 1:15 - 3:45 PM
LOCATION: Simons Foundation
Presentation by Alvin Roth (Economics, Stanford) on privacy issues in market design, a discussion, co-organized by Mallesh Pai (Economics, University of Pennsylvania) and Eric Budish (Booth School of Business, University of Chicago), on the issues raised by Roth.
Talks by by Scott Kominers (Becker Friedman Institute, University of Chicago) and Tim Mulcahy (NORC, University of Chicago

Topic-Specific Talks 4:45 - 5:50 PM
LOCATION: Simons Foundation
Talks by Julia Lane (American Institutes for Research), Ben Handel (Economics, Berkeley), and Hal Salzman (Public Policy, Rutgers) on privacy aspects of their research.

Evening Session 8:00 - 9:30 PM
LOCATION: Simons Foundation
An evening plenary session featuring a presentation by NYU Professor Steven Koonin, Director of the nascent Center for Urban Science and Progress, "a unique public-private research center that uses New York City as its laboratory and classroom to help cities around the world become more productive, liveable, equitable and resilient."  Remarks by Micah Altman (MIT and Brookings Institution) and Felix Wu (Benjamin Cardozo School of Law)

Registration is free and open to the public, on a first-come first-served basis. By registering you will confirm your attendance.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Nobel medal and diploma of Francis Crick: available at auction

Francis Crick (1916-2004)  won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. His Nobel medal and diploma are for sale at auction.

Francis H. C. Crick Nobel Prize Medal and Nobel Diploma.

Here's a news story st in the Christian Science Monitor that includes this estimate:
"The auction house handling the sale, Heritage Auctions, has valued the medal and diploma at $500,000, which is "an educated guestimate," said Sandra Palomino, Heritage Auctions' director of historical manuscripts. Estimates by Heritage's in-house coin experts went as high as $5 million, Palomino said. [See Photos of Crick's Medal & Other Auction Items]"

HT: Muriel Niederle

Estimated Price USD 400,000.00 - 600,000.00
Actual Price USD 2,270,500.00

Monday, March 4, 2013

Kinky sex becoming a less repugnant transaction?

The NY Times has the story: A Hush-Hush Topic No More. (The url writer was more explicit than the headline writer: )

"some real-life kinksters — a few of whom are appropriating the epithet “pervert,” much as gay activists seized control of “queer” — are wondering if they are approaching a time when they, like the L.G.B.T. community before them, can come out and begin living more open, integrated lives.

"But that time, it seems, has not yet arrived. Though the Harvard Munch Club, a social group of around 30 students focusing on kinky interests, was officially recognized by the university in December, its 21-year-old founding president asked that he not be identified. (“I’m interested in politics,” he offered as one reason.) He said that he had “encountered zero negative responses on campus,” and received messages from alumni expressing solidarity and wishing there had been a similar group when they were undergraduates.

"A 20-year-old college student and self-described submissive on Long Island who asked to be referred to only by her middle name, Marie, said that she was disowned by her parents when a partner’s lover outed her as kinky. “They were just beside themselves,” Marie said. “I think they were worried I would get hurt.”

"She saw how telling people could be complicated. “It’s like being gay in that it’s a sexual preference, but it’s not like being gay in the sense that it’s not who you love, it’s how you love,” she said, adding, “The coming out is a little bit different.” Still, she said, “among people my own age, I haven’t found anyone who thinks I’m weird or doesn’t want to be friends.”

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Counting people as a repugnant transaction

This week's Torah portion, Ki Tissa (Exodus 30:11-34:35) has some well known parts (the Golden Calf and the civil war that followed when Moses returned; you shouldn't boil a kid in its mother's milk...), but it starts with a census. And the census is described as follows (JTS translation)

"When you take a census of the Israelite people according to their enrollment, each shall pay the Lord a ransom for himself on being enrolled, that no plague may come upon them through their being enrolled."

The "ransom" is described as a half shekel.  You could read this as a tax.  But the Rabbinical commentaries expand on this in a number of ways, and one of them says that while it's ok to count coins, it isn't ok to count people, since a person can't/shouldn't be reduced to a number.

This makes census taking a very unusual repugnant transaction. Many non-repugnant transactions are rendered repugnant by adding money (think of kidney donation, which is almost universally applauded, versus kidney sales, which are widely illegal). Census taking is one of the rare examples of a repugnant transaction rendered non-repugnant by adding money, and counting the coins.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Federal budgets and immunosuppressive drugs for transplant patients

One of the funny things about Medicare is that it pays for dialysis, and for kidney transplants so that patients won't need dialysis, but it only pays for three years of immunosuppressive drugs post-transplant. That's foolish on a number of dimensions.

Here's a proposal for new legislation to fix that:


"U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) introduced bipartisan legislation to improve the quality of life for people with kidney disease. The Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act would assist thousands of Americans under the age of 65 who are being cut off from Medicare after 36 months by extending coverage of immunosuppressive drugs for kidney
transplant recipients"
"The effects of the disparity in coverage are evidenced in the hypothetical case of a young woman. For example, a 26 year old woman living with ESRD would have lifelong dialysis covered by Medicare at $77,500/year. Medicare would cover the cost of a transplant at $110,000/transplant. The immunosuppressive drugs she would need to ensure the organ is not rejected by her body are only covered for 36 months and the drugs are far less costly than dialysis at $10,000 to $20,000/year. Without immunosuppressive drugs to keep kidney transplants from being rejected, many patients find themselves right back where they started: in need of a kidney. This circular cycle of care is costing taxpayers a lot of money and putting thousands of lives at risk."

Friday, March 1, 2013

Child rearing by queuing

In New York City, many of the good things in life for children are rationed by queue: Born to Wait: 
For City Parents, a Waiting List for Nearly Everything

"The first parent lined up at 4 a.m. on a Sunday..

"Twenty minutes later, other parents showed up and a line began to form down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. One father kept a list so that anyone searching for a thawing hot coffee could do so without losing a place in the line. He abandoned that project as more and more people trickled in and the end of the line was no longer visible from the front...

"If waiting in line in the predawn of a January morning for science camp registration sounds crazy, you do not have a New York City child born after 2004. For those children and their parents, especially in the neighborhoods of brownstone Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan and the Upper West Side, not getting into activities, classes, sports teams — and even local schools — has become a way of life.
"Havona Madama’s fear of waiting lists led her to start a database to track her 5-year-old daughter’s favorite classes and their registration deadlines. Two years ago, she decided to leave her law practice to turn her research, a hub of information for brownstone Brooklyn about classes, camps and all-important registration dates. The site is still being developed, but she counts 50 to 100 visitors a day who peruse the listings. Still to come, she said, is an “alert” system to let parents know what deadlines they are about to miss.
"Technology has fueled the phenomenon. In 2012, the city moved to online registration for its free summer swim classes at its outdoor pools. The number of applicants jumped to 34,134, from 20,393 in 2011, when officials began to introduce the online application. (That year, four pools still required on-site, in-person registration. Most people got in.) Last summer, only 24,532 applications got spots.

"Often, the activities that fill up fastest are the ones that are most affordable and most accessible, like the swim classes. At the Brooklyn Public Library in Bay Ridge, 25 children can be accommodated at the free story-time sessions. Parents and other caregivers routinely show up when the library opens at 10 a.m. to get a ticket for the 10:30 a.m. story times on Mondays and Wednesdays. On a recent Wednesday, tickets were snatched up within five minutes.

"For children, waiting on a list for soccer or missing story time might not be a tragedy, but for parents, winding up on a list can mean having to put life on pause. In the Brooklyn line for science camp, the parents talked about how getting a spot could determine whether they could go to work on particular days, or whether they would have to spend extra money on a baby sitter.
'“It’s just a fact of living in the city,” Ms. Flattery said. She has learned not to discuss classes with her children until it is certain they will get in. She also follows a strategy that may add to the waiting lists. “You fill up every class you can, and you drop if you don’t need it. Everyone overschedules — it’s the only route to choice,” she said.