Thursday, October 31, 2019

Global Kidney Exchange in the Lancet, by Minerva, Savulescu and Singer

Here's a clear-eyed account of Global Kidney Exchange, from three moral philosophers, forthcoming in The Lancet. You can read the whole thing at the link:

The ethics of the Global Kidney Exchange programme
Francesca Minerva, Julian Savulescu, Peter Singer
The Lancet (online first, Published:October 29, 2019 DOI: )

Summary: The Global Kidney Exchange (GKE) programme seeks to facilitate kidney transplants by matching donor–recipient pairs across high-income, medium-income, and low-income countries. The GKE programme pays the medical expenses of people in medium-income and low-income countries, thus enabling them to receive a kidney transplantation they otherwise could not afford. In doing so, the programme increases the global donor pool, and so benefits people in high-income countries by improving their chances of finding a donor match. Nevertheless, the GKE has been accused of being a form of organ trafficking, exploiting the poor, and involving coercion and commodification of donors. We refute these claims, arguing that the GKE promotes global justice and reduces the potential for people in need of kidneys in low-income and medium-income countries to be exploited. Misguided objections should not be allowed to prevent the GKE from realising its potential to reduce suffering and save the lives of rich and poor patients alike.

The article is very clearly written, it is well worth reading the whole thing.

In a related announcement at the University of Melbourne, Professor Singer and his colleagues have a summary (with pictures):

The Global Kidney Exchange, which aims to expand the kidney donor pool, has been criticised as ‘organ trafficking’, but the counter argument is that it will save the lives of rich and poor patients alike

By Professor Julian Savulescu and Professor Peter Singer, University of Melbourne, and Dr Francesca Minerva, University of Ghent

"Our paper, published in the medical journal The Lancet, provides an ethical defence of the program.

"GKE has been compared to organ selling, a practice considered immoral by many and illegal in most places. However, as nobody gets paid for giving up their kidney through the GKE programme, this comparison does not hold true"

Update: and here is the published version
VOLUME 394, ISSUE 10210, P1775-1778, NOVEMBER 09, 2019

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

NCAA takes steps to allow college athletes to be compensated

Here's the NY Times:

N.C.A.A. Considers Loosening Rules for Athletes Seeking Outside Deals
The governing body for college sports appeared to soften its long-held stance that athletes should not profit from their fame. But it gave no details and said any rule changes required much more discussion.

"ATLANTA — The N.C.A.A. Board of Governors, under increasing pressure from legislatures around the country, voted Tuesday to pave the way for college athletes to profit off their fame, but the decision came with an elephant-size caveat: Any policy changes must maintain clear distinctions between amateur athletes and professional ones.

The vote was a surprising turn by the N.C.A.A., which for years has resisted calls for athletes to be compensated for the use of their names, images and likenesses. The board was responding to a report from a committee studying the issue and was expected to do little more than give the committee extra time to do its work.

The N.C.A.A. president, Mark Emmert, acknowledged that the passage of a bill in California that would permit sponsorships, the emergence of more than a dozen others like it nationwide and calls for change from prominent athletes like LeBron James had nudged his organization into action."

See previous post:

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Interviews in the Medical Physics residency match (too many, and what to do about it..)

Medical physics has a residency match, and like other residency matches it is suffering from (apparently) too many interviews.

Here's a signed editorial in the Journal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics (one correlate of it being an editorial rather than a paper is this:
"Received: 4 September 2019 | Accepted: 5 September 2019")

Some considerations in optimizing the Medical Physics Match
by Richard V. Butler1, John H. Huston1, George Starkschall2
1Department of Economics, Trinity University, San Antonio, TX,
2Department of Radiation Physics, The University of Texas MDAnderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

"In 2018, 79% of graduates of CAMPEP‐accredited graduate programs were accepted into residency programs.4 Consequently, to ensure a match, candidates interview at many programs. There is also a harmful feedback mechanism here. As applicants apply to more programs, the acceptance rate at each program declines. Consequently, applicants may apply to even more programs to increase their perceived probability of acceptance into a program. This is costly for the candidates in terms of travel expenses, and costly for the interviewing faculty in terms of time away from research, clinic, and teaching.
"Because the problem of optimal applications is an economics problem, there has been a search for solutions and a developing literature on the subject. Balter et al.5 show that limiting the number of applications candidates can submit is superior to limiting the number of applications a program can evaluate. Entering an application limit into the Gale/Shapley algorithm that underlies the matching process, the authors conclude that "the optimal limit in the number of applications balances the tradeoff between being unmatched and gaining a better match in the aggregate, and the benefit can be considerable if the graduates'preferences over the positions are not very correlated.
"Another approach to a solution is "signaling." A program would be permitted to notify a small number (somewhere between three and five) of applicants prior to interviews that it is seriously interested in them. This gives the applicant useful information about his/her chances at that particular program and so makes the benefit function a bit less fuzzy. Because the problem in medical physics seems to be more at the interview stage than the initial application stage, some form of signaling by institutions offering residencies might help reduce uncertainty so that at least some applicants could focus on the places where they have good chance and pass on visits to some of their more marginal options."

Here are earlier posts on the medical physics residency match.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Organ and tissue procurement: back and forth between LA Times and OneLegacy

Even in the era of social media, it remains difficult to conduct an argument with someone who buys ink by the truckload.

The LA Times ran a series of stories on tissue procurement:
Full Coverage: The Times’ investigation into how companies that harvest body parts upend death investigations

This was followed by a press release from OneLegacy, the big S. California organ procurement organization (OPO), disputing a number of points and objecting to the overall tone of the articles:
Inaccurate and Sensationalized Los Angeles Times Article Likely to Cause Unnecessary Deaths and Suffering
"—A highly-inaccurate and tragically sensationalized article in a recent edition of the Los Angeles Times is likely to lead to deaths and suffering while causing severe damage to the donation and transplantation community."

and this in turn was followed by a rejoinder in the LA Times:
OneLegacy issued a statement on an L.A. Times investigation; The Times responds
"“The Times stands firmly behind these important stories, which were the product of months of meticulous reporting and careful editing,” said Scott Kraft, managing editor of The Times."

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Ed Green, 1948-2019

Ran Shorrer at Penn State passes on the news that his colleague Ed Green died Saturday morning after a long fight with cancer. Ed and I were colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh in the late 1980s.  He was a scholar's scholar and a gentle man.

Perhaps his most famous paper is Green and Porter (1984), which outlined how cartels could effectively coordinate on high prices even when they could only imperfectly monitor one another, by engaging in price wars when defection was suspected:


Noncooperative Collusion under Imperfect Price Information

Edward J. Green, Robert H. Porter
Recent work in game theory has shown that, in principle, it may be possible for firms in an industry to form a self-policing cartel to maximize their joint profits. This paper examines the nature of cartel self-enforcement in the presence of demand uncertainty. A model of a noncooperatively supported cartel is presented, and the aspects of industry structure which would make such a cartel viable are discussed.

Ed also has a series of papers with his wife, Ruilin Zhou.

Update: here's an obituary.
Obituary of Edward James Green, 71

Interview with Péter Biró on kidney exchange and related matters

The interview touches on Peter's history, and on developments in kidney exchange.

Az algoritmus, ami életeket ment - interjú Biró Péterrel
[Google Translate: The algorithm that saved lives - interview with Péter Biró ]

Google translate gives a pretty readable version...

" Unfortunately, Hungarian colleagues are very busy with their basic tasks, so despite their good intentions, they can devote little resources and attention to creating a Hungarian kidney exchange program. Since 2016, there has been a so-called COST Action program in Europe, which promotes European networking on kidney exchange. I recently visited an economist in Padua on this topic and went to a leading nephrology surgeon there. We talked about how the Italian system could be improved and agreed to test the practicalities of this with the Padua data. By the way, this center carries out most of the living donor kidney transplants in Italy."

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Auction results: Nobel medals of John Nash and Reinhard Selten

The auction is over, and (unlike in some previous auctions) all of the items sold.  The highest profile items, namely the Nobel medals and diplomas, went for $735,000 (Nash) and 225,000 (Selten). 
LOT 58

Price Realized: USD 27,500
You did not place a bid on this lot
Nash's first great contributio
LOT 59

Price Realized: USD 25,000
You did not place a bid on this lot
Nash's doctoral thesis
LOT 60

Price Realized: USD 137,500
You did not place a bid on this lot
For his brilliant insight into
LOT 61

Price Realized: USD 735,000
You did not place a bid on this lot
For refining Nash's work
LOT 62

Price Realized: USD 225,000
You did not place a bid on this lot

Previous post:

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Friday, October 25, 2019

A substantial change in how transplant centers are regulated

From the website of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons:  it appears (although the Final Rule is hard to parse) that reporting requirements including one-year graft survival numbers have been relaxed, which will change the way transplant centers are regulated...

CMS Removes Outcomes Requirement for Transplant Center Re-approval

Sep 27, 2019
ASTS applauds the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the elimination of outcomes requirements as a condition of transplant center re-approval.
The announcement was part of the Omnibus Burden Reduction (Conditions of Participation) Final Rule, which will be published in the Federal Register on September 30, and the outcomes requirements are included in the data submission requirements being eliminated.
In announcing the Final Rule, CMS stated, “In an effort to improve patient care, CMS is responding to President Trump’s Executive Order on improving kidney health in America by strengthening the organ donation process. Specifically, the rule finalizes changes to transplant center requirements giving providers greater flexibility and freedom to support patients who need organ transplants. Current Medicare transplant center regulations for re-approval are burdensome. They are so burdensome, in fact, that they have led to some transplant programs avoiding performing transplants for certain patients, causing some organs to be discarded. The Omnibus rule will eliminate these requirements – specifically for data submission – which will reduce the number of organs that are discarded and increase the number of organs that are available for transplantation. As a result, more patients on the transplant waiting list will have access to lifesaving organ transplants. “

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Prostitution in Washington DC (sex, not politics)

The NY Times has the story, on a bill being discussed that would legalize not only prostitution, but pimps and brothels.

In Washington, a Fight to Decriminalize Prostitution Divides Allies
Supporters say a bill being considered by the District of Columbia Council would protect prostitutes in the nation’s capital. Critics say it would be a boon to sex traffickers.

"Groups supporting decriminalization include the A.C.L.U., Black Lives Matter, Amnesty International and the World Health Organization.

"Opponents include the National Organization for Women and World Without Exploitation, a coalition of groups dedicated to ending sexual trafficking and exploitation.
“If the issue people have about pimps is that they are benefiting from other people’s labor, don’t they have managers who do that at McDonald’s?” she asked."

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Designing effective reputation systems, by Donaker, Kim, and Luca in HBR

The Nov-Dec 2019 issue of the Harvard Business Review has an article offering some strategies for designing a reputation system that will have a better chance of being well populated and reliable:

Designing Better Online Review Systems
Geoff Donaker, Hyunjin Kim, Michael Luca

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Same sex marriage, and abortion, to be legal in Northern Ireland

The Guardian has the story:

Northern Ireland to legalise abortion and same-sex marriage
Equality campaigners were celebrating before the midnight deadline for law to take effect

"Northern Ireland is to legalise abortion and same-sex marriage after an 11th-hour attempt by the region’s assembly to block change collapsed into farce.

Equality campaigners celebrated on Monday as the clock ticked towards midnight when laws extending abortion and marriage rights came into force, ushering in momentous social change as Northern Ireland aligned with the rest of the UK."

Monday, October 21, 2019

Exchange with the right of exclusion--Balbuzanov and Kotowski in Econometrica


Endowments, Exclusion, and Exchange
Ivan Balbuzanov, Maciej H. Kotowski

Abstract: We propose a new solution for discrete exchange economies and resource-allocation problems, the exclusion core. The exclusion core rests upon a foundational idea in the legal understanding of property, the right to exclude others. By reinterpreting endowments as a distribution of exclusion rights, rather than as bundles of goods, our analysis extends to economies with qualified property rights, joint ownership, and social hierarchies. The exclusion core is characterized by a generalized top trading cycle algorithm in a large class of economies, including those featuring private, public, and mixed ownership. It is neither weaker nor stronger than the strong core.

"Our key contribution is the development of a new solution concept for discrete exchange economies and allocation problems, which we call the exclusion core. The exclusion core’s foundation is a reinterpretation of endowments in an exchange economy as a distribution of exclusion rights, rather than as bundles of things to trade. A simple idea—the ability to exclude others from goods in one’s own endowment—offers reallocation possibilities that are absent from traditional core solutions and is at the heart of the exclusion core’s rationale and predictive power. We formulate the exclusion core and analyze its properties in economies with single-unit demand, indivisible goods, and no transfers.
" we show that the exclusion core has a close association with David Gale’s top
trading cycle (TTC) algorithm (Shapley and Scarf (1974)). Beyond its theoretical elegance, the TTC algorithm is of substantial practical importance. Suitably generalized, it underpins implemented or proposed solutions to many market-design problems, including transplant organ exchange (Roth, Sönmez, and Ünver (2004)), student-school assignment (Abdulkadiro˘glu and Sönmez (2003)), airport landing-slot allocation (Schummer and Vohra (2013)), and refugee resettlement (Delacrétaz, Kominers, and Teytelboym (2016)). A generalized TTC algorithm characterizes the exclusion core in a large class of economies, including those with private, public, and mixed ownership."

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Amazon as a safe market-space for Hasidic business-NYT

The NY Times has the story about how Amazon is a good place to do business, if you don't like to leave home:

How Amazon Has Transformed the Hasidic Economy

"Amazon has become a lucrative place to do business for many Hasidic Jews, offering anonymity to a largely insular community and allowing women to work from home.
"The ability to sell merchandise easily and relatively anonymously on Amazon has transformed the economies of Hasidic enclaves in Brooklyn, suburban New York and central New Jersey, communities where members prefer to keep to themselves and typically do not go to college, let alone graduate from business programs.

But Amazon allows Hasidim to start selling without much experience and without making the investments required by a brick-and-mortar store. It permits Hasidic sellers to deal with the public invisibly — almost entirely by mail, by email or through package-delivery firms."

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Auction of John Nash and Reinhard Selten Nobel medals and memorabilia at Christie's, Oct 25

Great scholars pass away, and their estates need to put their affairs in order.
The auction house Christie's has several lots for sale, including the Nobel medals of John Nash and Reinhard Selten, and some items of Nash's work.

Here's Christie's front page for these auctions:
A ‘beautiful mind’ and his Nobel Prize
As Christie’s offers the medal given to John Nash in 1994, his biographer Sylvia Nasar reveals how he was nearly denied the prize that arguably saved his life

Here are the particular lots for sale:
LOT61|Sold in part to Benefit the John C.M. Nash Trust
For his brilliant insight into human behavior
USD 500,000 - USD 800,000
"The Nobel Prize and diploma are together with the following items relating to the ceremony: Typed letter signed, 11 October 1994, from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, notifying Nash of his award; Nash's copy of Les Prix Nobel 1994, Stockholm: Nobel Foundation, 1995; Nash's handwritten dimensions for his formal attire, signed ("John Forbes Nash"), one page, c.October 1994; and Nash's nametag ("Dr. John F. Nash, Economics") bearing the Nobel logo."

LOT62|Sold in part to Benefit Scholarships to the California Institute of Technology
For refining Nash's work
USD 200,000 - USD 300,000
"The Nobel Prize and diploma are together with a group of 11 photographs of Dr Selten, all 1990s-2000s, various sizes, including shots of him teaching as well as accepting his Nobel Prize.

Fifty percent of the net proceeds of this sale (after all seller’s costs) will be donated to be used as financial aid for gifted students in mathematics and information technology from Eastern Europe studying at the California Institute of Technology."

Nash's doctoral thesis
USD 3,000 - USD 5,000
"Octavo (258 x 173mm). Original orange stapled wrappers (some light soiling to covers, a little rusting to staples). Provenance: John Forbes Nash, Jr."

Nash's first great contribution to Game Theory
USD 2,500 - USD 3,500
"A group of rare offprints from Nash's personal library, two of them annotated. "The Bargaining Problem" is annotated by Nash on the first page where he has commented "a bad choice of phrasing" next to the line "that they are equal in bargaining skill." Contributions to the Theory of Games, which includes Nash and Shapley's "A Simple Three-Person Poker Game" (for which an offprint is also present) has Nash's ownership signature on the first page."

''I think you will really go places''
USD 800 - USD 1,200
"A high school trigonometry paper replete with encouraging words from Nash's teacher, and retained by Nash for the rest of his life"

A handwritten history of Game Theory at Princeton
USD 2,000 - USD 3,000
"Nash's handwritten lecture on Game Theory at Princeton University. At the time of his death in 2015, Nash had been associated with Princeton for nearly 70 years, first as an ingenious doctoral student and for the final ten years of his life as a senior research mathematician. After winning the Nobel Prize in 1994, Nash entered a long period of renewed activity and confidence, and here he looks back on the field. His overview begins with the contributions of French mathematician and politician Emile Borel followed by Princeton colleagues John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern (he notes that von Neumann "entered the picture" in 1928, the year of his own birth). Nash comments that "scientific concepts often are discovered in stages," and credits Antoine Augustin Cournot and Frederik Zeuthen's work ahead of his own, as well as Shizuo Kakutani's fixed-point theorem. He also touches on the work of Albert Tucker, Alvin Roth, David Gale, Robert Aumann, and Lloyd Shapley."
I hope to update these items.  In the meantime, some related previous posts, including previous auctions that didn't meet the reserve price:

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Hayek at auction at Sothebys

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 Crick's Nobel medal, and letter to his son describing DNA


Saturday, October 26, 2019

Auction results: Nobel medals of John Nash and Reinhard Selten

The auction is over, and (unlike in some previous auctions) all of the items sold.  The highest profile items, namely the Nobel medals and diplomas, went for $735,000 (Nash) and 225,000 (Selten).


Friday, October 18, 2019

Will IVF become more widely legal in France?

The Washington Post has the story:

Why an IVF bill is the next fault line for the French republic  By Camille Robcis

"Since 1994, France has banned surrogacy and restricted access to reproductive technologies to heterosexual couples who have been married or living together for more than two years, forcing single women and lesbian couples to travel to neighboring countries for fertility treatments, and gay men to resort to surrogates in countries such as the United States or the United Kingdom. On Tuesday, the French National Assembly is scheduled to vote on a bill that would finally allow access to assisted reproductive technologies, including IVF, for unmarried women and lesbian couples. Under the proposed law, the treatments would be reimbursed by Social Security, and French doctors helping these women with fertility treatments would no longer face legal sanctions. Surrogacy, however, would remain illegal.
"After a month of fierce legislative debates that have resulted in more than 2,000 proposed amendments to the bill, an estimated 75,000 marchers took to the streets of Paris on Oct. 6 in opposition. "

Thursday, October 17, 2019

NBER Market Design meeting, Cambridge, October 18-19

Market Design Working Group Meeting

Michael Ostrovsky and Parag A. Pathak, Organizers
October 18-19, 2019

Feldstein Conference Room, 2nd Floor
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA

Conference Code of Conduct
Friday, October 18
8:30 am
Continental Breakfast
9:00 am
Christina Aperjis, Power Auctions LLC
Lawrence Ausubel, University of Maryland
Oleg V. Baranov, University of Colorado, Boulder
Supply Reduction in the Broadcast Incentive Auction
9:45 am
Gianluca Brero, University of Zurich
Benjamin Lubin, Boston University
Sven Seuken, University of Zurich
Machine Learning-Powered Iterative Combinatorial Auctions
10:30 am
11:00 am
Tayfun Sönmez, Boston College
M. Bumin Yenmez, Boston College
Affirmative Action in India via Vertical and Horizontal Reservations
11:45 am
Joshua Angrist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and NBER
Parag A. Pathak, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and NBER
Roman Zarate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Choice and Consequence: Assessing Mismatch at Chicago Exam Schools
12:30 pm
2:00 pm
Marek Pycia, University of Zurich
Invariance and Matching Market Outcomes
2:45 pm
Nicole Immorlica, Microsoft Research
Jacob D. Leshno, University of Chicago
Irene Y. Lo, Stanford University
Brendan Lucier, Microsoft Research
Information Acquisition Costs in Matching Markets
3:30 pm
4:00 pm
Mohammad Akbarpour, Stanford University
Julien Combe, University College London
Yinghua He, Rice University
Victor Hiller, Université Paris 2
Robert Shimer, University of Chicago and NBER
Olivier Tercieux, Paris School of Economics
Unpaired Kidney Exchange: Overcoming Double Coincidence of Wants without Money
4:45 pm
Liran Einav, Stanford University and NBER
Amy Finkelstein, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and NBER
Yunan Ji, Harvard University
Neale Mahoney, University of Chicago and NBER
Voluntary Regulation: Evidence from Medicare Bundled Payments
5:30 pm
6:30 pm
Group Dinner at Bambara
(across the street from the Royal Sonesta Hotel)
Saturday, October 19
8:30 am
Continental Breakfast
9:00 am
Yannai A. Gonczarowski, Microsoft Research
Lior Kovalio, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Noam Nisan, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Assaf Romm, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Stanford University
Matching for the Israeli "Mechinot" Gap-Year Programs: Handling Rich Diversity Requirements
9:45 am
Amanda Y. Agan, Rutgers University and NBER
Bo Cowgill, Columbia University
Laura K. Gee, Tufts University
Salary Disclosure and Hiring: Field Experimental Evidence from a Two-Sided Audit Study
10:30 am
11:00 am
Nick Arnosti, Columbia University
Peng Shi, University of Southern California
Design of Lotteries and Waitlists for Affordable Housing Allocation
11:45 am
Daniel C. Waldinger, New York University
Targeting In-Kind Transfers Through Market Design: A Revealed Preference Analysis of Public Housing Allocation
12:30 pm
35 mins presenter
10 mins discussion