Sunday, February 27, 2022

2022 NSF/CEME Decentralization Conference on Mechanism Design, call for papers

 2022 NSF/CEME Decentralization Conference 

 The Scope of Mechanism Design:  From Bespoke Mechanisms to General Insights


Multiple Locations  + Virtual Conference April 22-23, 2022

 Stanford University  Columbia University, University of Michigan, Plus one additional location.

Mechanism design provides a mathematical framework for deriving the implications of information and incentive constraints given an environment and an objective function.  The framework has also proven useful for analyzing institutions at a variety of scales from free markets to organ markets. The NSF/CEME Decentralization Conference provides an opportunity for deep, technical  discussions on theoretical, technical and practical aspects of mechanisms.  

The 2022 Decentralization Conference invites papers that speak to the scope of mechanism design -- from bespoke mechanisms that allocate spectra, assign seats in schools, match donors to kidneys or people to jobs to more general investigations of how to apply the principles of mechanism design to build institutions to address the multiple objectives embedded in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, most notably environmental sustainability and inequality.  This last theme builds from the 2021 Conference which focused on mechanism design for vulnerable populations. 

Owing to COVID concerns and in an effort to balance travel concerns with the benefits of deeper conversations, the conference will experiment with a simultaneous, multiple location format that will be implemented as follows: we already have three sites across the country. Once we have agreed on a collection of papers, we will try to identify a fourth location near a collection of presenters.


The idea will be for speakers to either walk, drive, take trains, or fly to the nearest location.   The NBER/CEME will provide funds for meals and for speakers to travel to locations.  Interested scholars from host and neighboring cities will also be encouraged to attend in person.


Presentations will be both on Zoom and to one of the live local audiences.  Our goal will be to have four in person sites, though possibly more.  

 Submissions will be accepted until Friday, March 12th, 2022.

 The Conference Program will be announced on March 25th.

 Given the short time window, full paper submissions  are preferred, but extended abstracts will also be considered.  If you are potentially interested in hosting, contact Scott Page at

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Colombia decriminalizes abortion

Sentiments about abortion seem to be shifting in opposite directions across the Americas. The NY Times has the story:

Colombia Decriminalizes Abortion, Bolstering Trend Across Region By Julie Turkewitz

"Having an abortion is no longer a crime under Colombian law, the country’s top court ruled on Monday, in a decision that paves the way for the procedure to become widely available across this historically conservative, Catholic country.


"Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalized abortion in a similar decision in September and Argentina’s Congress legalized the procedure in late 2020. Colombia’s decision means that three of the four most populous countries in Latin America have now opened the door to more widespread access to abortion.

"It also comes as the United States has been moving in the opposite direction, with abortion restrictions multiplying across the country, and the U.S. Supreme Court considering a case that could overrule Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion"

Friday, February 25, 2022

Workshop in Experimental Economics at Stanford Institute for Theoretical Economics (SITE), August 15 and 16, call for papers

 The Stanford Institute for Theoretical Economics: Workshop in Experimental Economics will be held in-person at Stanford University on August 15h and 16th.  

The workshop seeks to showcase recent contributions in experimental economics. We hope you will consider submitting your work, and encourage others with interesting work to do so as well.

The deadline for submission is May 1.  To submit a paper, please follow the instructions below the “Experimental Economics” at the following link:  If you run into any difficulty with the submission process, please feel free to instead email your paper directly to the SITE program coordinator, Sharyn (

SITE Experimental Economics Organizers

Christine Exley, Harvard Business School
Muriel Niederle, Stanford University
Kirby Nielsen, California Institute of Technology
Al Roth, Stanford University
Lise Vesterlund, University of Pittsburgh

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Course on Matching, in Barcelona, by Péter Biró and David Manlove, April 27-28

If you are a Ph.D. student interested in matching, here's a two day course in Barcelona, by experts in the field.

V SEIO Course on Game Theory   

The University of Barcelona, the BEAT Research Institute, and the Game Theory and Assignment Markets Research Group are delighted to host the V SEIO Course on Game Theory on April 27 and 28, 2022.

The course is targeted at PhD students and early career researchers working in areas related to game theory. Besides covering a very active research topic, it is also an opportunity to meet with other researchers working in similar areas. 

The two-day course will cover algorithmic and game theoretic aspects of matching markets. Participants are welcome to present their game theory related research during a poster session.

The course will be delivered by Péter Biró (Head of  the Mechanism Design Group at KRTK) and David Manlove (Professor of Algorithms and Complexity at the University of Glasgow).

Registration deadline:  April 1, 2022  Registration is free, please fill in the on-line form to register.

Day 1 (April 27)

 09:00-09:30 Registration and welcome session

09:30-10:20 Stable Marriage and Hospitals / Residents problems: classical results

10:20-10:50 Coffee break

10:50-11:40 Decentralised matching markets, path-to-stability results

11:50-12:40 Hospitals / Residents problem: extensions (ties, couples, lower quotas)

12:40-14:10 Lunch

14:10-15:00 Hungarian university admissions: matching with contracts, choice functions, cutoff


15:00-15:30 Coffee break

15:30-16:20 Housing markets: exchange of indivisible goods

16:30-17:20 Respecting improvement property for housing markets

Day 2 (April 28)

 09:00-09:50 House Allocation problem: Pareto optimal, popular and profile-based optimal matchings

10:00-10:50 School choice and constrained welfare-maximizing solutions

10:50-11:50 Coffee break and poster session

11:50-12:40 Stable roommate problems

12:40-14:10 Lunch

14:10-15:00 Matching with payments, auctions

15:00-15:30 Coffee break

15:30-16:20 Kidney Exchange

16:30-17:20 Generalized matching games, international kidney exchange

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Cannabis and the law

 The WSJ has this update:

Push to Relax Marijuana Laws Hits Roadblocks. Biden administration has sidestepped the issue of decriminalizing cannabis despite bipartisan support.  By Alex Leary

"Facing a tough midterm election and divisions in Congress, the Biden administration is sidestepping the politically sensitive issue of loosening marijuana laws even as the idea has gained support of most Americans.

"More than half of U.S. states have legalized cannabis use for some purposes. Lawmakers have proposed decriminalizing marijuana, which would entail reduced penalties for users, and have pushed for giving the industry access to banking services. Those promoting changes include a diverse range of political figures, from former Republican House Speaker John Boehner to progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.).


"More than two in three Americans support legalizing marijuana, according to a 2021 Gallup poll. That is up from a decade ago, when half of Americans were in favor, Gallup found.


"The House has previously passed legislation to decriminalize it and this month approved provisions to give cannabis companies access to the banking system, as marijuana lobbying has soared in what has become a multibillion-dollar industry.

"But with many Republicans and some Democrats opposed, odds of Senate passage are slim given filibuster rules requiring 60 votes."

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

California State Assembly bill would reimburse living donor expenses

 Here's some news about CA's newly proposed bill to reimburse living organ donor expenses.

American Kidney Fund Applauds Introduction of California Living Organ Donor Reimbursement Act. If passed, AB 2504 would be the first law of its kind in the nation

"The American Kidney Fund (AKF) strongly supports the introduction of the Living Organ Donor Reimbursement Act (AB 2504) in the California State Assembly. The Living Organ Donor Reimbursement Act is a groundbreaking piece of legislation that would provide direct reimbursements of up to $10,000 to living organ donors for expenses associated with organ donation not covered by insurance. The bill would be the first of its kind enacted in the nation and would greatly remove financial barriers that currently prevent potential living organ donors from making their lifesaving gift.

"AKF has been working closely with the bill’s sponsor, Assemblymember Ash Kalra (District 27), to craft this legislation and introduce it in the State Assembly. According to AKF’s Living Donor Protection Report Card, 20 states currently reimburse living donors through tax credits or deductions, which help to remove financial barriers but are not nearly as inclusive as direct reimbursements. If this bill is enacted, California would be the first state to provide direct reimbursements to donors after surgery through the establishment of a Living Organ Donor Reimbursement Program in the State Department of Health Care Services."


And here's the proposed bill:

ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 2504  Introduced by Assembly Member Kalra, (Coauthors: Assembly Members Bennett, Cristina Garcia, and Mullin), February 17, 2022

"Existing law, the Michelle Maykin Memorial Donation Protection Act, requires an employer to grant an employee an unpaid leave of absence, as specified, for the purpose of organ donation.

"Existing law establishes the State Department of Health Care Services within the California Health and Human Services Agency. Existing law sets forth the department’s powers and duties relating to, among other things, public health, licensing and certification of certain health facilities, and the state Medi-Cal program.

"This bill, the Living Organ Donor Reimbursement Act, would establish the Living Organ Donor Reimbursement Program in the State Department of Health Care Services to reduce financial barriers for living organ donors. The bill would authorize living organ donors, as defined, to apply to the department for reimbursement of qualified donation expenses, as defined, that were not, or will not, otherwise be reimbursed, including travel and lodging expenses, lost wages, child care costs, and medication costs. The bill would limit the total reimbursement costs awarded to each living organ donor to $10,000 per organ donation. The bill would create the Living Organ Donor Reimbursement Fund within the State Treasury. The bill would authorize the Controller to accept donations to the fund from private entities, and would continuously appropriate these moneys for purposes of the program. The bill would require the Controller to allocate other moneys in the fund, upon appropriation by the Legislature, for purposes of the program. The bill would repeal the provisions of the bill on January 1, 2027."

Monday, February 21, 2022

Kidney Transplant Collaborative

 The Kidney Transplant Collaborative has a new grants program, that includes the following exciting initiatives:

1. Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates

Grant Project:  Pulsatile Perfusion from Procurement to Delivery at Accepting Centers 

Project Team:    David Dwyer, Transplant Center Liaison; Brian Roe, Chief Financial Officer; Jennifer Daniel, Organ Operations Director

2. Stanford University in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Grant Project:  Using Machine Learning to Improve Utilization and Reducing Discards in Deceased Donor Organ Allocation 

Project Team:  Itai Ashlagi, Associate Professor – Stanford; Paulo Somaini, Assistant Professor of Economics – Stanford; Nikhil Agarwal, Associate Professor of Economics – MIT

3. HonorBridge 

Grant Project:   Kidney Transplant in Rapid Organ Recovery from Donation after Uncontrolled Circulatory Death Donors 

Project Team:   Kimberly Koontz, Chief Operating Officer; Nissa Casey, Manager of Recovery Services; Joel Baucom, Director of Organ Operations; Lora Smitherman, Manager of Hospital Services

4. Columbia University in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic and the National Kidney Foundation 

Grant Project:   Using Shared Decision Making to Improve Kidney Transplantation Rates 

Project Team:  Sumit Mohan, Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology – Columbia University; Syed Ali Husain, Assistant Professor of Medicine – Columbia University; Kristin King, Data Analyst - Columbia University;  Anne Huml, Assistant Professor of Medicine – Cleveland Clinic; Jesse Schold, Director of Outcomes Research in Kidney Transplantation - Cleveland Clinic;  Peter Reese, Associate Professor of Medicine - University of Pennsylvania 

5. Cambridge85, LLC 

Grant Project:   Deceased Donor Kidney Chains 

Project Team:  Simon Keith, Founder/Principal ,Cambridge 85; Kelly Ranum, CEO, Louisiana Organ Procurement Organization; Diane Brockmeier, CEO, Mid-American Transplant; Kyle Herbert, CEO

Live on Nebraska;  Matt Wadsworth, CEO, Life Connection of Ohio

Sunday, February 20, 2022

2022 ESA World Meetings

 2022 Economic Science Association (ESA*) World Meetings  at MIT,  June 13-16

The 2022 World Economic Science Association Conference will be held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management.

The Main ESA Conference will take place from Monday evening, June 13 (welcome reception) through Thursday, June 16, 2022. 

The Eighth Biennial Meeting of the Social Dilemmas Working Group will take place on Friday and Saturday, June 17 and 18, 2022.

Keynote speakers:

Lorenz Goette National University of Singapore and  University of Bonn 

Brit Grosskopf University of Exeter

Amanda Pallais Harvard University

Deadline for abstract submissions: March 14, 2022


The Economic Science Association isn't the only ESA having a meeting in 2022. But if you are looking for one of these others you aren't yet in the right place:

2022 Annual Meeting - Ecological Society of America

Saturday, February 19, 2022

The Einstein Foundation Award for Promoting Quality in Research, call for nominations

 April 10 is the deadline for new nominations for the 2022 awards. (Some nominations from last year will be held over for consideration this year.

The Einstein Foundation Award for Promoting Quality in Research

Here's my post regarding the 2021 awards:

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Friday, February 18, 2022

The Economic Theory Conference in Memory and Honor of Hugo Sonnenschein, April 29-30, U. Chicago

 In April, a memorial conference honoring Hugo Sonnenschein:

The Economic Theory Conference in Memory and Honor of Hugo Sonnenschein

Date: Friday, April 29 to Saturday, April 30

Friday, April 29, 2022
8:00 am - 8:45 am
Continental Breakfast and Registration
8:45 am - 9:00 am
Introductory Remarks
Session 1
9:00 am - 9:45 am
General Equilibrium with Climate Change
9:45 am - 10:30 am
Market Design and Walrasian Equilibrium
10:30 am - 11:00 am
Session 2
11:00 am - 11:45 am
Predicting Choice from Information Costs
11:45 am - 12:30 pm
Investment Incentives in Near-Optimal Mechanisms
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

With remarks by Dilip Abreu, New Yok University; Pierre-Andre Chiappori, Columbia University; Vijay Krishna, Pennsylvania State University; andJohn Roberts, Stanford University


Session 3
2:00 pm - 2:45 pm
2:45 pm - 3:30 pm
On the Structure of Informationally Robust Optimal Auctions
3:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Session 4
4:00 pm - 4:45 pm
A Minskyite Model of Financial Crises
4:45 pm - 5:30 pm
5:30 pm
Conference Dinner

With remarks by Salvador Barberà, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona; Matthew O. Jackson, Stanford University; David M. Kreps, Stanford University; and Robert Wilson, Stanford University

Location: City View Room, 10th Floor Rubenstein Forum

Saturday, April 30, 2022
8:00 am - 9:00 am
Continental Breakfast
Session 1
9:00 am - 9:45 am
Interactions Across Multiple Games: Implications for Cooperation, Corruption, and the Design of Teams and Organizations
9:45 am - 10:30 am
Efficiency in Random Resource Allocation and Social Choice
10:30 am - 11:00 am
Session 2
11:00 am - 11:45 am
11:45 am - 12:30 pm
Bargaining with Exclusionary Commitments

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Mathematics and Computer Science of Market and Mechanism Design at MSRI Berkeley in Fall of 2023

 Here's an early announcement of a program at Berkeley's Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI). MSRI loves company, so if you have a sabbatical coming up and are interested in market design, this is worth looking into.

Mathematics and Computer Science of Market and Mechanism Design

August 21, 2023 to December 20, 2023


Michal Feldman (Tel-Aviv University), Nicole Immorlica (Microsoft Research), LEAD Scott Kominers (Harvard University), Shengwu Li (Harvard University), Paul Milgrom (Stanford University), Alvin Roth (Stanford University), Tim Roughgarden (Stanford University), Eva Tardos (Cornell University)


In recent years, economists and computer scientists have collaborated with mathematicians, operations research experts, and practitioners to improve the design and operations of real-world marketplaces. Such work relies on robust feedback between theory and practice, inspiring new mathematics closely linked – and directly applicable – to market and mechanism design questions. This cross-disciplinary program seeks to expand the domains in which existing market design solutions can be applied; address foundational questions regarding our ways of developing and evaluating mechanisms; and build useful analytic frameworks for applying theory to practical marketplace design. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

The Art Mart

 Art galleries are (among other things) middlemen, intermediating between artists and buyers of art, who may range from passionate consumers to institutional investors. (There are of course also passionate consumers who are also investors in an asset class that, like real estate, you can enjoy while it appreciates.)  

Of course, the galleries' incentives may not always be perfectly aligned with those of creators and consumers.  Galleries play a big role in helping bring young artists to market, and matching them to consumers and investors.  But as artists become more well known, other opportunities present themselves.

Here's a story from the WSJ about tensions involving sales by galleries versus sales by auction.

Why Artwork Flipping Can Incur the Wrath of Dealers. Dealers want to control the artists’ narrative and pricing, but investors want to leave it to the market  By Daniel Grant

"Chicago gallery owner Rhona Hoffman has three or four collectors she won’t sell to again.

“They broke the rule,” says the contemporary art dealer.

"That commandment to collectors: If you later decide to sell your artwork, consign it back to the gallery—do not put it up at auction.

"When buyers ignore this rule and auction off recently purchased pieces, it’s called flipping."


Here's an older story, from Artsy, about the British artist/entrepreneur Damien Hirst, who has a long history of ambivalence about the role of galleries in the design of the market for art.

How Damien Hirst’s $200 Million Auction Became a Symbol of Pre-Recession Decadence by Nate Freeman

"On September 15, 2008, Sotheby’s was set to auction off 223 brand new works by Damien Hirst, including top-flight examples of his whole animals in formaldehyde, medicine cabinets, and spin paintings. It was an unprecedented incursion by an auction house into the primary market, and an unabashedly flashy sale accompanied by a global marketing tour with stops in Kiev, Aspen, and New Delhi.


"The Hirst auction, which the artist had dubbed “Beautiful Inside My Head Forever,” exceeded all expectations, grossing $200.75 million over the course of two sales in the span of 24 hours and becoming the most expensive single-artist auction ever. The 56 lots at the evening sale went 97% sold, and the two lots that did not find buyers during the auction were sold before the night was over. Over a third of the buyers had never bought contemporary art before. On the cusp of a global recession, Hirst walked away with $172 million.


"Taking work directly to market through an auction house would siphon millions of dollars from Hirst’s powerful dealers, Jay Jopling and Larry Gagosian. Hirst’s set up was typical of any in-demand artist at the time: He made work, and his dealers decided where to place it. Ordinarily, it is frowned upon when a vetted collector flips a work at auction. But Damien embraced that very act of betrayal and decided to pre-flip his own works to whoever could pay, with the support of Dunphy, whom he trusted more than his two dealers.

“Frank has my best interests at heart,” Hirst told The Economist in a story published before the sale. “Dealers say they do, but they don’t.”

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

The market for ballet dancers, by Olivia Hartzell

 Here's a post about the market for ballet dancers, by Olivia Hartzell, an econ Ph.D. student at Harvard whose previous profession was ballet. She writes in Dance Magazine that the market for dancers isn't as thick as it might be, because there aren't uniform times at which companies hire, and efficient matches are hard to predict. She proposes a centralized clearinghouse, but anticipates some obstacles to adoption and implementation.

The Ballet Job Market Needs a Market (Re)Design  by Olivia Hartzell

"The ballet job market is what an economist would refer to as a “matching market”—you cannot simply choose where to go, but you must also be chosen. What makes the ballet market peculiar is that, unlike most professional athletic markets, directors have vastly different preferences for dancers and they mostly do not (and cannot) compete for hires with salaries. Rather, dancers are first and foremost committed to finding their best artistic fits and are often willing to work for less than their worth.

This phenomenon would not be quite as problematic if dancers and directors were nonetheless matched efficiently. Unfortunately, there are two major failures that plague the current system.

First, although many, but not all, major ballet companies in the U.S. operate under the dancers’ union AGMA, there is virtually no regulation in terms of hiring. Deadlines to hold auditions, renew or cancel contracts are company-specific and are not standardized industry-wide. This is problematic because when streams of dancers are released into the audition market at different times, both companies and dancers can end up with undesirable results.


"In other settings, centralized clearinghouses have been enormously effective in eliminating similar market failures. Specifically, what I have in mind is a variant that I’ve designed of the well-known top trading cycles algorithm. It would work something like this: After all company departures have been announced and auditions held, dancers and directors would simply submit their preferences to a centralized algorithm that would quickly determine final assignments based on those preferences. 


"Of course, centralized clearinghouses are most effective when the majority of the market agrees to partake in them. While leaders may fear that this would require them to relinquish some control, they would only make offers to the dancers who they would under the best possible scenario, and the gains they would achieve by thickening and coordinating the market would far outweigh any perceived losses.

"As new leaders begin to take the reins at companies around the globe, time will tell whether they will be brave enough to challenge the status quo and reshape the marketplace in a way that truly works for both dancers and directors."

HT: Scott Kominers


The market for ballet dancers is tough in other ways as well, e.g. it's the rare dancer who finds her way to graduate school later. Many professional dancers never go to college. See e.g. (also in Dance Magazine)

What Directors Really Think of Ballet Dancers Going To College by Sarah Wroth

"In the ballet world, the phrase “going to college” is sometimes regarded as the musings of a dancer who’s not really serious about their craft. Although schools like Juilliard and Bennington College have made degrees acceptable for modern dancers for decades, the competitive ballet world (which often follows a philosophy of “the younger the better”) tends to discourage higher education."


And this, from a story about a dancer with an unusually long and storied career who was able to make a post ballet career in contemporary dance:

When Ballet Is Your Life, What Does Life After Ballet Look Like? Wendy Whelan only ever wanted to dance. But what happens when you can't dance anymore?  by Chloe Angyal

 "Career paths out of ballet are notoriously narrow. Dancers usually skip college, and even the end of high school, to devote themselves to dancing in their late teens and early 20s, which means that when they retire from dancing, they’re out in the job market without an entry-level degree. Some dancers go on to teach or coach, and some to choreograph, though the latter path is often even less stable, predictable or lucrative than being a dancer. Some go into ballet-adjacent work, like dance photography. Some will be picked to run companies; Pacific Northwest Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Washington Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet are all run by alumni of the New York City Ballet or American Ballet Theater. But there are only so many ballet companies to run, and turnover at the top can be infrequent."