Friday, March 31, 2017

Barcelona Graduate School of Economics celebrates its 10th anniversary

The Barcelona Graduate School of Economics is 10!

There are a number of events and workshops.

The main celebration of this milestone will take place in Barcelona on March 31 and April 1, 2017.

Roundtable with members of the Barcelona GSE Scientific Council 
"The Practical Influence of Economic Research"

12:00, UPF Auditorium
Students, alumni, faculty, and friends are invited to attend this panel discussion with distinguished members of the Barcelona GSE Scientific Council:
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    Richard Blundell
    University College London
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    Matthew Jackson
    Stanford University
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    Anne Krueger
    Johns Hopkins University
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    Alvin Roth
    Stanford University
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    Christopher Sims
    Princeton University

Tribute and conversation with 2016 Nobel Laureates

Oliver Hart (Harvard University) and Bengt Holmström (MIT) are both members of the Barcelona GSE Scientific Council. There will be a brief tribute and conversation with Professors Hart and Holmström immediately following the roundtable.
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    Oliver Hart
    Harvard University
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    Bengt Holmström

Barcelona GSE 10 years review

13:30, UPF Auditorium
  • Joaquin Almunia
    Joaquín Almunia
    Honorary President of the Barcelona GSE
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    Ramon Marimon
    Chairman of the Board of Trustees
  • Andreu Mas-Colell
    Andreu Mas-Colell
    Founder of the BGSE
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    Hugo Sonnenschein
    Honorary President of the BGSE Scientific Council

Lunch and Happy Birthday Barcelona GSE

14:00, outside UPF Auditorium

Research Workshops

16:00-17:30, UPF Building 40
Faculty, researchers, and Scientific Council members will participate in three concurrent research workshops:
Applied Economics Workshop (Room 40.008):
  • Libertad González (UPF and BGSE) 
  • Hannes Mueller (IAE-CSIC and BGSE)
  • Marta Reynal-Querol (ICREA-UPF and BGSE)
Chair: Orley Ashenfelter (Princeton University and BGSE Scientific Council)
Macroeconomics Workshop (Room 40.010):
  • Davide Debortoli (UPF and BGSE)
  • Luca Gambetti (UAB and BGSE)
  • Alberto Martin (CREI, UPF and BGSE)
Chair: Nancy Stokey (University of Chicago and BGSE Scientific Council)
Microeconomics Workshop (Room 40.012):
  • José Apesteguía (ICREA-UPF and BGSE)
  • Jordi Brandts (IAE-CSIC and BGSE)
  • Pau Milán (UAB and BGSE)
Chair: Ariel Rubinstein (Tel Aviv University and BGSE Scientific Council)

Alumni Reunion and Network Activities

See the reunion page for details and registration.


Scientific Council Meeting

On Saturday, the Barcelona GSE Scientific Council Meeting will take place at the Institute for Economic Analysis (IAE-CSIC) at UAB Bellaterra Campus. 

Alumni Reunion and Network Activities

See the reunion page for details and registration.

Share your memories from the Barcelona GSE's first ten years: #BGSE10

Here's a news story (courtesy of Google translate):
The center of the UPF and UAB, founded by Andreu Mas-Colell has trained 2,000 students from one hundred countries and ranks as one of the best economic research institutes in the world

BGSE 10th Anniversary celebration reunites more than 350 people who have shaped our first decade

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Market design and kidney exchange at the Royal Academy of Economics and Finance in Barcelona

I'll speak at and become a foreign member of the Royal Academy of Economics and Finance (RACEF), in Barcelona this evening.

El Nobel de Economía Alvin Roth ingresa en la Real Academia de Ciencias Económicas y Financieras

Here's a recent article about RACEF, which is based in Barcelona, while the other Royal Spanish Academies are based in Madrid:
RACEF, la Academia con sede en Barcelona que ya cotiza en el Instituto de España
And here's a photo (I'm the one in the blue shirt):

More photographs here.

Update: and here's a video, in English and Spanish.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Kidney exchange, in Spanish, from the BBC

Alvin Roth, el premio Nobel de economía que sin buscarlo acabó salvando miles de vidas, Redacción BBC Mundo 14 marzo 2017

G translate (from the text): "According to data the BBC Department of Blood and Transplants gave to BBC Mundo, in 2015, 123 chain transplants were made out of a total of 1025 live kidney donations.
In Spain , a world leader in organ transplantation, the first cross-transplant was also performed for the first time in 2009. In 2015 , 125 patients received a kidney with this system ."

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I speak about school choice at The Economic Club of Indiana

I'll speak in Indianapolis about Market Design and Unified Enrollment School Choice.

Dr. Alvin Roth, Stanford University and Nobel Prize in Economics

Date:  March 28, 2017

Time:  12:00 pm

Location: Indiana Convention Center


Known for his emphasis on applying economic theory to solution for “real-world” problems, Dr. Alvin Roth serves as the Craig and Susan McCaw professor of economics at Stanford University and the Gund professor of economics and business administration emeritus at Harvard University. Roth has made many significant contributions to the fields of game theory, market design and experimental economics. In 2012, Roth won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences jointly with Lloyd Shapley “for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design.” Roth is a graduate of Columbia University and Stanford University

Monday, March 27, 2017

Columbia U. Economic Theory Workshop today: Stable matching in centralized and decentralized markets

I'll speak at Columbia today, partly on a paper with Qingyun Wu, and partly on the larger question of why stable matching mechanisms seem to be very important for centralized clearinghouses, but may provide less insight into how decentralized markets resolve themselves.

"Stable matching in centralized and decentralized markets"

Al Roth (Stanford) 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Blasphemy as a repugnant transaction in Pakistan

The Guardian has the latest:
Pakistan asks Facebook and Twitter to help identify blasphemers
Companies approached in effort to locate Pakistanis at home or abroad so they can be prosecuted or potentially extradited

"Under the country’s strict blasphemy laws, anyone found to have insulted Islam or the prophet Muhammad can be sentenced to death.
The interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, said an official in Pakistan’s Washington embassy had approached the two social media companies in an effort to identify Pakistanis, either within the country or abroad, who recently shared material deemed offensive to Islam.
He said Pakistani authorities had identified 11 people for questioning over alleged blasphemy and would seek the extradition of anyone living abroad.
Facebook said it reviews all government requests carefully, “with the goal of protecting the privacy and rights of our users”."

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Kidney donation in Tennessee

Here's a story from the Tennessee Tribune, about Dr. Clarence Foster, an African-American transplant surgeon, who is trying to raise awareness among minority patients.

Minorities Wait for Kidney Transplants

"In 2016, 226 African American Tennesseans received a kidney transplant compared to 222 white and ten Hispanics, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The numbers are almost identical for 2015.

But, the list for Tennessee residents who need kidney transplant is far longer. Last year, 1, 283 African Americans, 1,166 Whites, 63 Hispanics and 29 Asians, 9 Native American and 29 Multi-Racial people waited for kidney transplants.

Jill Grandas confirmed that the numbers of African Americans waiting for a kidney are almost equal to white patients.

“Among patients in Tennessee waiting for a kidney, about 50 percent are African Americans and they are transplanted at almost the same rate – 48 percent of the patients who received a kidney were African American.”

However, in Tennessee, the number of African American kidney donors is far less than the need. Last year, 211 kidneys were donated by white donors, 43 by black donors, 11 by Hispanic donors and 2 Asian donors and these were from deceased donors.  Among living donors (usually a close family member) there were 55 white donors, 7 black, one Hispanic and one Asian.

“Among, 2,107,231 on the ‘Donate Life Tennessee Organ and Tissue Donor Registry,’ 9.2 percent are African Americans,” said Grandas.

“Our rate of donation from African Americans is much less than from other races. We would assume that if more African Americans would donate, more African American patients would receive an organ from an African American donor.”

“African Americans can safely be a living donor.  We need to overcome the mistrust between the community and the medical profession,” said Dr. Foster."

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bob Wilson and Game Theory: two very short videos

In connection with Bob Wilson's 2017 CME Group-MSRI prize, here's a short (2 minute)video in which Roger Myerson, Phil Reny, Bob Wilson, David Eisenbud, and I respond to the question "What is game theory?"  (Phil also remarks on what role it has played in his long happy marriage...)

And there's another short video (which I couldn't embed), talking about Bob Wilson, at this link to the CME prize page (scroll down til you see the game theory video, it's right next to it):
Robert Wilson Awarded the 2016 CME Group-MSRI Prize in Innovative Quantitative Applications

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Match Day and the medical match as an economic game by Moblab

Not only is the medical Match important for doctors, now there's an in-class game from Moblab which econ instructors can use to introduce matching. Here's a post about it:

A Personal Note on Match Day and our KR Matching Game.
17 Mar 2017/ by Doug Norton 

Germany en route to annul historical convictions of gay men

Deutsche Welle has the story:
Germany set to annul historical convictions of gay men

"German men convicted on the basis of a 19th century law criminalizing homosexuality now have a chance at getting late justice in the wake of an expert study commissioned by the Anti-Discrimination Agency.
Their supposed crime was the same during the Nazi era as it was in the federal republic founded in 1949: They loved other men and had homosexual sex.
Those who were caught engaging in homosexual acts or who were denounced as homosexuals were spared no mercy by the state. The law containing the infamous Paragraph 175 outlawing sexual relations between men dates back to the 19th century, but it was applied especially zealously under Nazi rule. The law remained intact even after 1945. Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969, but Paragraph 175 was not abolished until 1994.
By that time, more than 50,000 men had been convicted for being gay, something that "violated the very core of their human dignity," said Christine Lüders, the head of the government's Anti-Discrimination Authority, in Berlin on Wednesday. At her side was Martin Burgi of the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. The legal expert has compiled a study on the rehabilitation of homosexuals convicted under the law. He's confident it can be done, saying there's no legal barrier to rehabilitating the men.
"For laypeople, it's hard to understand why men convicted under Paragraph 175 by the Nazis have been rehabilitated since 2002, while verdicts handed down in the post-war era are still being upheld. The logic is as appalling as it is banal: The Nazi dictatorship was declared an unjust state; the Federal Republic of Germany, on the other hand, is based on democratic principles. That means the men who had the misfortune to be found guilty of homosexuality in the post-war era still have criminal records.
But Burgi says that "collective rehabilitation" of those affected by the law can be achieved with the help of social and democratic principles."


Here's the Associated Press story from ABC: German Cabinet OKs plan to annul homosexuality convictions

"Germany's Cabinet on Wednesday approved a bill that would annul the convictions of thousands of gay men under a law criminalizing homosexuality that was applied zealously in post-World War II West Germany.

The decision also clears the way for compensation for those still alive who were convicted under the so-called Paragraph 175 outlawing sexual relations between men.

The legislation was introduced in the 19th century, toughened under Nazi rule and retained in that form by West Germany, which convicted some 50,000 men between 1949 and 1969.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969 but the legislation wasn't taken off the books entirely until 1994.

The bill approved Wednesday by Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet of conservatives and center-left Social Democrats still requires parliamentary approval. "

This echoes recent events in England: see my earlier post on that

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Unmarried sex is a crime in Abu Dhabi

The Telegraph has the story:
Expat couple arrested in Abu Dhabi for sex outside of marriage

"An expatriate couple have been detained in Abu Dhabi for almost six weeks after being arrested for having sex outside of marriage.

South African Emlyn Culverwell, 29, took his 27-year-old Ukrainian fiancée, Iryna Nohai, to a medical centre in the UAE city after she developed stomach cramps.

The doctor said she was pregnant and informed authorities after they could not provide marriage certificates. They were first brought to Yas Police Station, before being moved to Al Wathba Prison."   

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Matching shipping containers to shippers

A matching problem that John Vande Vate is thinking about has to do with the large number of shipping containers that travel empty to their next destination after being unloaded. "Street turns" would match them to shipments near their previous destination.

Here's his report on the considerable upside to improved matching:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Congestion in SF public school choice

One thing that computerized school choice is supposed to do is reduce congestion that sometimes stops school districts from matching students to schools in a timely way. San Francisco has a computerized system, but they are nevertheless running into congestion this year. SFGate has the story:
High anxiety as SF public school assignments run late, By Nanette Asimov

"A school district glitch has parents biting their nails in San Francisco this week.
Thousands of dollars are on the line for families that are prepared to lay out hefty deposits for private schools by this week’s deadlines — but hope they won’t have to if they can get into a public school of their choice.
The trouble is, the San Francisco Unified School District may not be able to tell them about their public school options, from elementary through high school, before private-school down payments are due Wednesday through Friday. The district missed its March 17 deadline for sending out school-assignment letters because of “unforeseen staffing emergencies,” said spokeswoman Gentle Blythe.
“We have people who haven’t slept in days” trying to make sure that 83,000 school options for 14,000 students are all correct, Blythe said, adding that she can’t reveal more about the problem because of employee confidentiality.
"The deadline for private high school deposits is Wednesday at noon for parents applying for financial aid and Friday at noon for those paying full price. Private elementary and middle schools have a Thursday deadline. And although most private schools coordinated their deposit due dates with the public school district this year, the district’s glitch has thrown the careful planning into disarray."

Update: SF school-assignment letters to be mailed out Monday night  By Nanette Asimov Updated 4:19 pm, Monday, March 20, 2017

"The San Francisco district sends out public-school assignments by U.S. mail because “the letters provide the documentation families need to register at school sites and serves to further verify their address,” spokeswoman Gentle Blythe said.
However, parents facing an imminent private-school deadline who haven’t gotten a letter by Tuesday can email
“We will do what we can to help you after March 21,” says a notice on the district’s website."

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A 5 pair internal kidney exchange at Ohio State

US News and World Report has the story
A five-way kidney exchange was successfully completed at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center.

"Rimmer and DeVoe were part of a five-way kidney exchange at Ohio State on Tuesday. All five recipients had a family member or friend willing to donate to them, but each was incompatible.
"More than 98,000 people in the United States, including about 2,200 in Ohio, are waiting for kidneys. Ohio State was the site of 209 kidney transplants in 2016, and roughly 40 percent were from living donors. A goal is to boost both numbers, said Washburn, who operated on two of the recipients, including Rimmer.

The five-way kidney exchange is the second largest of such procedures performed solely at Ohio State. Most such "internal" exchanges are smaller, but the university's largest, in 2011, involved 12 patients and six transplants. This week's exchange initially included 16 people, but one person was not well, so three pairs had to drop out.

Since 2010, 60 kidney transplants have been performed at Ohio State through similar internal exchange groups. Surgeons there also perform about 10 transplants annually through "external" exchanges that involve other hospitals."

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Mohammad Akbarpour on Iran's kidney market

My colleague Mohammad Akbarpour at Stanford GSB is featured in their newsletter.  

He thinks about kidney transplantation from a number of different's a snippet.

Is It Ever OK to Sell (or Buy) a Kidney?

"Iran’s paid kidney market emerged after the country’s revolution at the end of the 1970s. In the early ’80s, foreign sanctions against the government inhibited its ability to get dialysis machinery. The number of Iranians needing a kidney transplant, however, kept increasing, so in 1988 the government organized a system that regulated and funded kidney transplantation. Their system included compensation for donors.
Officials euphemistically described the money given to each donor as a “gift,” says economist Mohammad Akbarpour, an assistant professor of economics at Stanford Graduate School of Business, who, has been working with several colleagues to study Iran’s market and unpaid kidney exchange markets globally. “They were paying for it, but using different words,” says Akbarpour. The system worked so well that the kidney transplant wait list in Iran was nearly eliminated by 1999.
“We have this discussion in the West about what would happen if you have a paid market for kidneys,” says Akbarpour. “The expectation has been that poor people will be selling their kidneys to rich people. But the debate has been largely based on speculations, as opposed to evidence.”
Akbarpour looked at five years’ worth of data about kidney sales and transplantation in the country, and his preliminary findings show that the average wealth of those buying kidneys is almost exactly the same as the average wealth of Iranians. Most of the payment for each transplant comes from the patient, not the government.
“It’s not just rich people who can buy a kidney in Iran,” he says. “Even poor people find the money for it, because it’s so valuable. There are also charities they can tap.”
But one suspected consequence of a cash market for kidneys did turn out to be true: Poor people sell kidneys far more than any other economic group. In Iran, most kidneys come from those whose incomes are in the bottom 25% of earners."

Friday, March 17, 2017

Match Day for American doctors and foreign medical grads

Today is Match Day for the National Resident Matching Program. Congratulations to all the newly matched residents.

Here are some articles in honor of match day, concerning difficulties in the interviewing process that proceeds the formal match, and some other things (including the US travel ban that is once again being adjudicated):

Match Day is coming up. Here’s how medical students game the residency system
"Writing love letters

This is the most common way to game the match. Applicants send emails to residency program directors expressing their interest in the program, hoping to influence how the director ranks them. Applicants sometimes end up writing multiple letters professing their love to different programs. Sometimes, they tell more than one program director that their program is their first choice.

While programs often say that they don’t adjust their rankings based on “love letters,” some do. For one of my friends, a residency director for surgery told her, “the love letter could be a deciding factor in how we rank you.”

So, we’re stuck: If you don’t send one, it might look like you’re not interested."

 2016 Dec 1;82(12):1163-1168.

Behind the Match Process: Is There Any Financial Difference Lurking Below the Specialty of Choice?

Abstract: The Match was developed in response to a chaotic residency selection process. While the match has remained relatively unchanged since it was introduced, the number of medical school graduates has increased at a rate outpacing the number of residency positions leading to a more competitive process for applicants. In May 2014, an 18-question mixed-response questionnaire was distributed to fourth year allopathic medical students via an E-mail distribution list for student affairs representatives. The individual surveys were accessible via SurveyMonkey and available for completion over the course of a 4-week period. Approximately 65.1 per cent of students performed at least one audition rotation and documented average expenditures of $2494 on housing, food, and transportation. The average applicant applied to 32 programs and attended 12 interviews while spending $4420 on the interview trail. Applicants for surgical programs applied to approximately 42 programs and attended 13 interviews compared with primary care applicants who averaged 23 programs (P < 0.001) and attended 12 interviews (P = 0.002). Surgical applicants averaged 20 days on the interview trail while spending $5500 ($423/interview) on housing, food, and transportation compared with primary care applicants averaged 19 days away from home (P < 0.05) and spending $3400 ($283/interview) on these same items (P < 0.001). The findings in our study indicate that the "Match process" contributes to the financial burden of graduating medical students and it is more expensive and time consuming for the candidates interested in surgical specialties.
No Heart Surgeon Match Day for Major Medical Center
Columbia University missed deadline to submit residents' ranking list
"Medical students hoping to train in cardiothoracic surgery at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center in New York City got some bad news over the weekend: The center will not be able to select residents in Match Day for cardiothoracic surgery.
The center confirmed Monday that it missed the deadline to submit its ranking list for residents in the specialty."
And this:( 
Travel Ban Adds Stress To 'Match Week' For Some Doctors

Here incidentally is the NRMP statement on the travel ban:

NRMP Statement On The Executive Order On Immigration

February 3, 2017
NRMP has released a statement on the Administration’s Executive Order on immigration. We ask the medical education community to support all international medical graduates and their families during these difficult times. Please be assured that NRMP will do all it can to address the uncertainties the order has created. As for the current Match cycle, we hope that applicants and programs will continue to rank each other in the order of true preference, based on the qualifications and qualities each seeks in the other.
Maria C. Savoia, M.D., Chair
Mona M. Signer, President and CEO

Thursday, March 16, 2017

What do immigrant doctors affected by the travel ban bring to America?

"What do immigrant doctors bring to America" is the question asked (and answered) by The Immigrant Doctors Project, a website compiled by a team of youthful looking scholars in response to the six country travel ban reinstated by the White House after an earlier version was found illegal by the courts.

One of the authors, Jonathan Roth, is quoted at length in a news article on the particular effect this ban may have in Los Angeles: Hundreds of doctors in LA County could be affected by new travel ban

"The executive order, which is due to go into effect on Thursday, temporarily blocks visas from being issued to citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen to "to protect the Nation from terrorist activities by foreign nationals." The ban does not include permanent residents and those who already have visas, but doctors applying for new visas or seeking to renew expired ones would require a waiver. Several states are challenging the order's constitutionality in court.
"Los Angeles is actually the metro area in the United States which has the highest number of doctors from the banned countries," according to Jonathan Roth, a Harvard PhD student and one of the researchers who worked on the Immigrant Doctors Project.  
Roth, along with other researchers from Harvard and MIT, used the location of the medical school where a doctor was trained as a way to calculate a doctor's country of origin. Since many doctors train abroad, Roth says it's likely that the number of doctors affected by the ban is much larger than their estimates. 
More than 900 doctors in Los Angeles went to medical school in one of the six countries listed in the executive order, more than three-quarters of them in Iran, he says. "
You can here a brief interview with Jonathan R. here:
Tomorrow is Match Day for new medical residents and fellows, and we have yet to hear how the immigration ban may have affected this year's match. (See earlier post: Travel bans and rank order lists for the resident match)