Sunday, March 31, 2024

MATCH-UP 2024 7th International Workshop on Matching Under Preferences, Oxford, 9 - 11 September, 2024

 Here's the announcement and call for papers of the latest edition of the Match-Up series of conferences.

MATCH-UP 2024   7th International Workshop on Matching Under Preferences 

University of Oxford, United Kingdom   9 - 11 September, 2024

 "MATCH-UP 2024 is the 7th workshop in an interdisciplinary and international workshops in the series on matching under preferences. It will take place on 9 - 11 September 2024, hosted by the University of Oxford, United Kingdom.

"Matching problems with preferences occur in widespread applications such as the assignment of school-leavers to universities, junior doctors to hospitals, students to campus housing, children to schools, kidney transplant patients to donors and so on. The common thread is that individuals have preference lists over the possible outcomes and the task is to find a matching of the participants that is in some sense optimal with respect to these preferences.

"The remit of this workshop is to explore matching problems with preferences from the perspective of algorithms and complexity, discrete mathematics, combinatorial optimization, game theory, mechanism design and economics, and thus a key objective is to bring together the research communities of the related areas.

"List of Topics

"The matching problems under consideration include, but are not limited to:

  • Two-sided matchings involving agents on both sides (e.g., college admissions, medical resident allocation, job markets, and school choice)
  • Two-sided matchings involving agents and objects (e.g., house allocation, course allocation, project allocation, assigning papers to reviewers, and school choice)
  • One-sided matchings (e.g., roommate problems, coalition formation games, and kidney exchange)
  • Multi-dimensional matchings (e.g., 3D stable matching problems)
  • Matching with payments (e.g., assignment game)
  • Online and stochastic matching models (e.g., Google Ads, ride sharing,
  • Other recent applications (e.g., refugee resettlement, food banks, social housing, and daycare)

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Fraud in physics? Room temp superconductors, again

 It should come as no surprise that it's not only social sciences that can be roiled by accusations of research misconduct.

Here's a story in Nature about a scientist who had a paper retracted from Nature, and then had another accepted, and then also retracted, both about room temperature superconductors.  It's a long, detailed story, but it says something about both science and about peer review.

Superconductivity scandal: the inside story of deception in a rising star’s physics lab. Ranga Dias claimed to have discovered the first room-temperature superconductors, but the work was later retracted. An investigation by Nature’s news team reveals new details about what happened — and how institutions missed red flags.   By Dan Garisto

"A researcher at the University of Rochester in New York, Dias achieved widespread recognition for his claim to have discovered the first room-temperature superconductor, a material that conducts electricity without resistance at ambient temperatures. Dias published that finding in a landmark Nature paper1.

"Nearly two years later, that paper was retracted. But not long after, Dias announced an even bigger result, also published in Nature: another room-temperature superconductor2.


" Nature has since retracted his second paper2 and many other research groups have tried and failed to replicate Dias’s superconductivity results. ...The scandal “has damaged careers of young scientists...


"Three previous investigations ... by the University of Rochester did not find evidence of misconduct. But last summer, the university launched a fourth investigation,... That fourth investigation is now complete and, according to a university spokesperson, the external experts confirmed that there were “data reliability concerns” 


"Nature retracted the CSH paper on 26 September 2022, with a notice that states “issues undermine confidence in the published magnetic susceptibility data as a whole, and we are accordingly retracting the paper”.


"Felicitas Heβelmann, a specialist in retractions at the Humboldt University of Berlin, says misconduct is difficult to prove, so journals often avoid laying blame on authors in retractions. “A lot of retractions use very vague language,” she says.


"The lack of industry-wide standards for investigating misconduct leaves it unclear whether the responsibility to investigate lands more on journals or on institutions.


"After Nature published the LuH paper in March 2023, many scientists were critical of the journal’s decision, given the rumours of misconduct surrounding the retracted CSH paper.


"All four referees agreed that the findings, if true, were highly significant. But they emphasized caution in accepting the manuscript, because of the extraordinary nature of the claims. Referee 4 wrote that the journal should be careful with such extraordinary claims to avoid another “Schön affair”, referring to the extensive data fabrication by German physicist Jan Hendrik Schön, which has become a cautionary tale in physics and led to dozens of papers being retracted, seven of them in Nature. Referees 2 and 3 also expressed concern about the results because of the CSH paper, which at the time bore an editor’s note of concern but had not yet been retracted. 


"When asked why Nature considered Dias’s LuH paper after being warned of potential misconduct on the previous paper, Magdalena Skipper, Nature’s editor-in-chief, said: “Our editorial policy considers every submission in its own right.” The rationale, Skipper explains, is that decisions should be made on the basis of the scientific quality, not who the authors are."

Friday, March 29, 2024

Stanford Center for Computational Market Design: Inauguration on Monday

 On Monday, there's a market design event:

Stanford Center for Computational Market Design: Inauguration

Please register to attend the event. Registration is free of charge.

Mon, Apr 1 2024, 1:45 - 7pm

Mackenzie Room, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center Room 300 475 Via Ortega 3rd Floor Stanford, CA 94305                     

1:45-2:00 Welcome and Introductions

2:00-2:30 Kidney transplants: At Stanford and around the world   Alvin Roth, Professor of Economics, Stanford University

2:30-2:45 Introduction to the Center   Amin Saberi, Professor of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University

2:45-3:30  Panel Discussion: Hal Varian (Chief Economist, Google), Jonathan Hall (Chief Economist/VP of Applied Science, Uber), Ann Miura Ko (Co-Founding Partner, Floodgate)    Moderator: Itai Ashlagi, Professor of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University

Coffee Break  

4:00-4:30 Auctions with Computationally Difficult Constraints  Paul Milgrom, Professor of Economics, Stanford University

4:30-5:00 What is Missing in Market Design? Michael Schwartz, Chief Economist and Corporate Vice President, Microsoft

5:00-5:30 Redesigning the U.S. Organ Donation System: Moving from Monopolies to Patient-Centered Accountability  Jennifer Erickson, Senior Fellow, Federation of American Scientists    Gregg Segal, CEO, Organize

5:30-5:45 Summary and Wrap-up  Itai Ashlagi, Professor of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University

5:45   Reception

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Cannabis in US airports

 An anomaly of US Federal law is that marijuana is illegal on airplanes (interstate commerce) even when the airports involved are in states where marijuana is legal.

The WSJ has the story and a picture:

Don’t Put Your Stash in the Overhead Bin. A ‘Cannabis Amnesty Box’ at Chicago’s Midway Airport.  By Bob Greene

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Danny Kahneman (1934-2024)

 Danny Kahneman passed away today.

Here's the Washington Post obituary:

Daniel Kahneman, Nobel-winning economist, dies at 90. He found that people rely on shortcuts that often lead them to make wrongheaded decisions that go against their own best interest  By Chris Powe

"Daniel Kahneman, an Israeli-American psychologist and best-selling author whose Nobel Prize-winning research upended economics — as well as fields ranging from sports to public health — by demonstrating the extent to which people abandon logic and leap to conclusions, died March 27. He was 90.

"His death was confirmed by his stepdaughter Deborah Treisman, the fiction editor for the New Yorker. She did not say where or how he died.


"Dr. Kahneman took a dim view of people’s ability to think their way through a problem. “Many people are overconfident, prone to place too much faith in their intuitions,” he wrote in his popular 2011 book “Thinking, Fast and Slow.” “They apparently find cognitive effort at least mildly unpleasant and avoid it as much as possible.”

"Dr. Kahneman spent much of his career working alongside psychologist Amos Tversky, who he said deserved much of the credit for their prizewinning work. But Tversky died in 1996, and the Nobel is never awarded posthumously.

"Both men were atheist grandsons of Lithuanian rabbis, and both had studied and lectured at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Their three-decade friendship and close collaboration, chronicled in Michael Lewis’s 2016 book “The Undoing Project,” was a study in opposites.

"According to Lewis, Tversky was the life of the party; Dr. Kahneman never even went. Tversky had a mechanical pencil on his desk and nothing else; Dr. Kahneman’s office was full of books and articles he never finished. Still, Dr. Kahneman said, at times it was as if “we were sharing a mind.” They worked so closely together that they tossed a coin to decide whose name would go first on an article or a book.

"Their research helped establish the field of behavioral economics, which applies psychological insights to the study of economic decision-making, but also had a far-reaching effect outside the academy. "

Mexico’s Law Suit Against US Gun Dealers

U.S. gun dealers are protected against lawsuits stemming from crimes committed by their customers. by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), But that law doesn't protect them from lawsuits resulting from their own actions, and a U.S. judge has permitted a suit by Mexico to go forward which accuses five Arizona gun dealers of violating American laws. has the story:, 

Federal Court in Arizona Allows Mexico’s Case Against US Gun Dealers to Proceed. The federal gun industry shield law should not keep the suit from moving forward, U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Márquez ruled. by Amy Guthrie 

"A federal district court judge in Arizona has ruled that a lawsuit filed by the government of Mexico against five Arizona firearm dealers alleged to be engaging in weapons trafficking should be allowed to proceed.

"U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Márquez held that the federal gun industry shield law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), should not prevent the suit from advancing. 


"The complaint “adequately alleges that defendants’ knowing violation of firearm-specific statutes proximately caused plaintiff’s injuries for purposes of the predicate exception to the PLCAA,” she wrote in her ruling, dated March 22.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

American guns fuel Haiti's gangs

The U.S. is an importer of illegal drugs, and an exporter of illegal firearms (i.e. firearms whose sale is legal, even protected in the U.S., but illegally smuggled into countries that would like to control firearms...)

The Guardian has the story:

Guns and weapons trafficked from US fueling Haiti gang violence. Experts say most guns smuggled from states with lax firearms laws such as Florida, Arizona and Georgia.  by Oliver Laughland

"As Haiti has again plunged into violent chaos, images of gang members bearing high-powered rifles, pump-action shotguns or automatic weapons in the streets of Port-au-Prince have become ubiquitous.

"But this weaponry is not made in Haiti, a country with no firearms or ammunition manufacturing capabilities.

"It is an arsenal that largely comes directly from the US, with most guns, experts say, likely to have originated from states with lax firearm laws, and many trafficked into Haiti from Florida.

"This clandestine trade has left Haiti’s gangs with a vast cache of illegal arms and much greater firepower than the country’s dispirited and underfunded police force.


"Joly Germine, a 31-year-old leader of 400 Mawozo, directed specific requests for high-powered weapons via WhatsApp messages sent from a Haitian prison. The requests were made to US citizens in Florida, including Germain’s romantic partner, and the weapons were then stuffed in garbage bags, loaded into large barrels and hidden under “clothes, shoes and Gatorade” ready for shipment.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Anger and Sadness in Tel Aviv

Saturday, on the last night of my just-ended visit to Israel, I attended two adjacent mass public events. 

One was a political demonstration against the leadership of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and his governing coalition. The other was a vigil for the kidnapped hostages, living and dead.

In each of these two events, the one Hebrew word you heard more than any other was NOW (עכשיו).  As in "Elections NOW!"  or "Bring them home NOW!"

In the political demonstration, the primary mood expressed by the speakers was anger.  In the vigil, it was sadness.

Below some pictures and a video of a speech with added subtitles in English translation.

From the demonstration:

The signs say "Elections Now!"

The sign (addressed to Bibi) says: "You are the boss.
You are guilty"

From the vigil for the hostages:

Prepared to welcome the hostages home  to Shabbat dinner


And one bonus picture, on the road connecting the two gatherings, from the Women Who Wage Peace

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Conference in Jerusalem, in solidarity with Israeli academics

 I'm expecting to be back in California later today.  I gave three talks while in Israel, and met with many people, but the proximate cause of my trip was the economics conference organized by Effi Benmelech on behalf of Northwestern's Crown Family Israel Center for Innovation. It was organized as an expression of support for Israeli academics.

Here is the program

Wednesday, March 20 | Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Jerusalem

9:00-9:15 Welcome  Effi Benmelech, Northwestern University

9:15-10:00 Amir Yaron, Governor of the Bank of Israel

10:00-10:15 Break

Macro Session

10:15-11:00 Moving to Fluidity: Regional Growth and Labor Market Churn  Eran Hoffman, Hebrew University

11:00-11:45 Policy Design and Rates of Convergence in Learning Models  Martin Eichenbaum, Northwestern University

11:45-12:45 Lunch

Applied Micro Session

12:45-13:30 Fostering Soft Skills in Active Labor Market Programs: Evidence from a Large-Scale RCT  Analia Schlosser, Tel Aviv University

13:30-14:15 Decomposing the Rise of the Populist Radical Right  Roee Levy Tel Aviv University

14:15-14:30 Break

14:30-15:15 Why Has Construction Productivity Stagnated? The Role of Land-Use Regulation  Edward Glaeser, Harvard University

15:15-15:30 Break

Matching Markets Session

15:30-16:15 Organ Allocation for Transplants, Around the World and in Israel: Part I  Al Roth, Stanford University

16:15-17:00 Organ Allocation for Transplants, Around the World and in Israel: Part II  Itai Ashlagi, Stanford University

Thursday, March 21 Mishkenot Sha’ananim, Jerusalem

Industrial Organization Session

9:15-10:00 Selling Subscriptions Liran Einav, Stanford University

10:00-10:15 Break

10:15-11:00 An Empirical Analysis of Merger Efficiencies  Alon Eizenberg, Hebrew University

11:00-11:15 Break

11:15-12:00 Pharmaceutical Advertising in Dynamic Equilibrium  Ariel Pakes, Harvard University

12:00-13:00 Lunch

Economic History Session

13:00-13:45 Land Privatization and Business Credit: The Response of Bankruptcies to Land Enclosures in England 1750-1830  Karine van der Beek, Ben-Gurion University

13:45-14:00 Break

14:00-14:45 Diversity, Pluralism and Tolerance: The Roots of Economic Progress  Joel Mokyr, Northwestern University

14:45-15:00 Break

Experimental Economics

15:00-15:45 Describing Deferred Acceptance to Participants: Experimental Analysis  Yannai Gonczarowski, Harvard University

15:45 Adjourn

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Kidney biopsies can be predicted pretty well, which could speed organ allocation

 Here's a big international collaboration suggesting that AI assisted predictions about kidney biopsies are effective, and could speed acceptance of deceased donor organs for transplant.

 "A Machine Learning-Driven Virtual Biopsy System For Kidney Transplant Patients." Nature Communications 15, no. 1 (2024): 554.  by Daniel Yoo, Gillian Divard, Marc Raynaud, Aaron Cohen, Tom D. Mone, John Thomas Rosenthal, Andrew J. Bentall, Mark D. Stegall, Maarten Naesens, Huanxi Zhang, Changxi Wang, Juliette Gueguen, Nassim Kamar, Antoine Bouquegneau, Ibrahim Batal, Shana M. Coley, John S. Gill, Federico Oppenheimer, Erika De Sousa-Amorim, Dirk R. J. Kuypers, Antoine Durrbach, Daniel Seron, Marion Rabant, Jean-Paul Duong Van Huyen, Patricia Campbell, Soroush Shojai, Michael Mengel, Oriol Bestard, Nikolina Basic-Jukic, Ivana Jurić, Peter Boor, Lynn D. Cornell, Mariam P. Alexander, P. Toby Coates, Christophe Legendre, Peter P. Reese, Carmen Lefaucheur, Olivier Aubert & Alexandre Loupy

From the discussion:

"In this international, multicohort study of kidney transplant biopsies from 17 worldwide centers including the largest Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) in the USA and labeled by expert kidney pathologists, we derived and validated a virtual biopsy system that uses non-invasive and routinely collected donor parameters to predict kidney histological lesions.


"Over the past decade, the use of kidneys from older donors with comorbidities has expanded the pool of kidneys, raising the question of whether pathological examination of donated kidneys could help better characterize organ quality or drive inefficiencies in organ allocation22. Additionally, this biopsy procedure needs to be performed and interpreted by trained experts, which is difficult to implement 24/7 . Furthermore, in the USA, the United Network for Organ Sharing policy for organ allocation, recommends the use of KDPI, day-zero biopsy results, and donor characteristics to assess organ quality before transplantation. Despite the importance, the lost time due to this procedure could be precious when the biopsy result is used for allocation purposes as every additional hour of cold ischemia time is highly associated with worse graft outcomes. Therefore, many centers are discouraged from performing day-zero biopsy because it remains an invasive and time-consuming procedure that could increase cold ischemia time."


Friday, March 22, 2024

Lysistrata in Kiryat Joel

 Kiryas Joel is a Hasidic community in New York State, in which ancient religious traditions can come into conflict with modern customs.   

Haaretz has the story, about religious activist Adina Sash:

'Call Your Rabbi, Husband': Why These ultra-Orthodox New York Women Are on a 'Sex Strike'.  After hiring a plane to fly a "Free Malky" banner over the Hasidic enclave of Kiryas Joel, the ultra-Orthodox feminist activist Adina Sash decided a sex strike by the community's women would be the next step in pressuring a local man to give his wife a religious divorce.  by Rachel Fink

"Sash, who goes by the handle flatbushgirl, is singularly focused on using her platform to call attention to women in the ultra-Orthodox community, of which she considers herself a full-fledged member, whose husbands refuse to give them the Jewish bill of divorce known as a get. According to Jewish law, it is the man who gives the get and the woman who receives it, never the other way around.

"Last week, Sash aimed her sights on the place where, according to her, Jewish women yield the most power: The bedroom. Sash called for Orthodox women to go on a "mikveh strike." According to Jewish law, following menstruation, married women must immerse in a mikveh, or ritual bath, before they can have sex with their husbands – which many do later that night.


"She also advocates that the sex strike take place on "mitzvah night," by which she means Friday night. Like engaging in sexual relations directly after the mikveh, many observant Jews give special status to sex on the Sabbath, which relates to the rabbinic obligation to delight in the Sabbath.


"According to an Instagram story she posted on the day she announced the current strike, "When your husband says, 'Why?' say, '... Please call your rabbi and figure out a way to help free Malky,'" she wrote.


"How is it possible that the rabbis have compassion for men, giving them a way out but not women?" Sash continued. She is referring to a rabbinic loophole called a heter meah rabbanim (literally, permission of 100 rabbis) which allows men to remarry in the rare instance that a wife refuses to receive a get. While this could theoretically result in an "agun," or chained man, the rabbis came up with a solution allowing the man to remarry based on the biblical law that states that a man can have more than one wife. However, since a woman cannot be married to two men, both ancient and modern rabbinical courts are unwilling to apply this exemption to women."

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Revisiting the Israel-UAE kidney exchange

 I spoke in Jerusalem yesterday about kidney exchange, and one of the things I talked about is the kidney exchange between Israel and the UAE.  At the time (summer 2021) I was careful not to blog about anything beforehand, because there were delicate political issues, and so I didn't start to tell the story until I returned from the UAE, and I waited until the story appeared in a U.S. newspaper.

I never got around to linking to the stories in the Israeli press, so here are two. via Google translate.

From ynet:

Historical transplant: Shani's kidney will be transplanted into an Abu Dhabi resident, her mother will receive a kidney in Israel  Shani Markowitz of Nesher is expected to go down in history this week as the first Israeli to have her kidney transplanted into the body of a resident of Abu Dhabi. The transplant will be carried out as part of an international crossover program in which an Israeli citizen will also receive a kidney from a resident of the United Arab Emirates. Markowitz: "My goal is for my mother to receive a kidney in exchange." Prof. Eitan Mor, Director of the Sheba Transplantation Center: "It is possible that after the Corona we will meet face to face"  by Adir Yanko, 24.07.21 

and from Mednews Israel

Israel Kidney Crossing Abu Dhabi

"Medical fruits of the peace agreement with the United Arab Emirates: a kidney, donated at the Sheba Hospital, was flown and transplanted in Abu Dhabi, in exchange for a kidney donated in Abu Dhabi and transplanted at the Rambam Hospital

"July 28, 2021 was a historic day for the State of Israel, the Ministry of Health, the National Center for Transplantation and the kidney patients and their families: thanks to the transfer of a kidney in a crossover, from Israel to Abu Dhabi and from Abu Dhabi to Israel, three transplants were performed on this day, two of them in Israel


"Dr. Tamar Ashkenazi, director of the National Center for Transplantation and the initiative  [said]of the cooperation: "The program was theoretically born from the moment the Abraham Agreement was signed in September 2020, and from the day the agreement between the Ministries of Health was signed on April 21, 2021, we began to move rapidly towards the agreement on the crossbreeding program. An American company assisted in the agreement which accompanies the program in the Emirates, APKD, along with laboratory data provided to us by the company. The matches were found by Prof. Itai Ashlagi, an Israeli researcher at Stanford, with the help of software he developed and even donated to us. Prof. Ashlagi accompaDr. Tamar Ashkenazi, director of the National Center for Transplantation and the initiativenies us in all the international crosses together with Rona Simon from the transplant center. A great feeling of satisfaction accompanies us. We turned to the next crossovers and to find more matches"


Here are all my posts on that and related kidney exchanges

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Bring Them Home

 I'm in Israel this week, where there are constant reminders of the hostages

at Ben Gurion airport

at Symphony hall

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

The Impact of prioritization on kidney and liver allocation in Israel

   Israel's  Organ Transplantation Law grants some priority on waiting lists for transplants to candidates who are first-degree relatives of deceased organ donors (i.e. whose family has given permission for someone's deceased organ donation) or who previously registered as organ donors themselves. (There's also a tiny priority for relatives of people who signed organ donor cards...)  Here are two papers that looks at the effect of those priorities on kidney and liver transplants, and how they interact with other priorities on waiting lists for Israeli organs.  

The first paper, on kidneys, concludes that the priorities are effective in reducing waiting time to transplant, and suggests that perhaps these priorities should not be so large compared to other existing priorities (e.g. for time on dialysis), or for priorities that could be established, e.g. for highly sensitized patients (who get high priority in the U.S., for example.)

Mor, Eytan, Meitar Bloom, Ronen Ghinea, Roi Anteby, Ronit Pasvolsky-Gutman, Ron Loewenthal, Ido Nachmani, and Tammy Hod. "The Impact of the Donor Card Holder Prioritization Program on Kidney Allocation in Israel." Transplantation (2024): 10-1097.


Background: Since 2014, as part of a priority program within the Israeli Transplant Law, additional points were given to waitlisted candidates with donor cards. We assessed the impact on deceased donor kidney allocation.

Methods: This study enrolled all patients older than 18 y who underwent deceased donor kidney transplantation (January 2016–December 2019). Data were obtained from the National HLA Tissue Laboratory registry at the Sheba Medical Center. Patients were grouped by donor card status (ADI group) (not signed, 0 points; relative signed, 0.1 points; patient signed, 2 points; and relative donated, 9 points). The primary outcome was waiting time until kidney transplantation with and without the additional score.

Results: Four hundred forty-four patients underwent kidney transplantation during the study period: 281 (63%) were donor card holders (DCH) and 163 (37%) were not DCH. DCH with extra points waited 68.0 (±47.0) mo on average, compared with 94.6 (±47.3) mo for not DCH (P < 0.001). Donor card signers had a shorter time until transplant in a multivariable model. Without extra points, 145 recipients (32.6%) would have missed organs allocated to higher-scored candidates. Allocation changes occurred in 1 patient because of an additional 0.1 points, in 103 candidates because of an additional 2 points, and in 41 candidates because of an additional 9 points.

Conclusions: Additional DCH scores improved allocation and reduced waiting time for donor card signers and those with donating relatives. To enhance fairness, consideration should be given to reducing the score weight of this social criterion and raising scores for other factors, especially dialysis duration.


There are many fewer liver transplants than kidney transplants, and the effect of priority is less clear:

Ashkenazi, Tamar, Avraham Stoler, and Eytan Mor. "The effect of priority given to donor card holders on the allocation of livers for transplant—evidence from 7 years of the Israeli priority program." Transplantation 106, no. 2 (2022): 299-307.


Background. The Israeli Transplant Law grants priority in organ allocation to patients signing a donor card. Liver transplant candidates get additional 2 points on their Model for End Stage Liver Disease score for signing a donor card, 0.1 points for a relative holding a card, and 5 points if a relative donated an organ. We studied the effect of the priority program on waiting list mortality and allocation changes due to priority.

Methods. Using Israeli Transplant data of 531 adult liver transplant candidates with chronic liver disease listed between 2012 and 2018 we compared waitlist mortality and transplant rate of candidates with and without priority. Then we analyzed liver allocations resulting from additional priority points and followed outcome of patients who were skipped in line.

Results. Of the 519 candidates, 294 did not sign a donor card, 82 signed, 140 had a relative sign, and for 3, a relative donated an organ. The rates of waitlist mortality in these 4 groups were 22.4%, 0%, 21.4%, and 0%, respectively, and the transplant rates were 50%, 59.8%, 49.3%, and 100%, respectively. Of the 30 patients who were skipped because of priority, 24 subsequently underwent transplant, 2 are on the waiting list, and 4 died within 0.75, 1.75, 7, and 17 mo.

Conclusions. The 2 points added to the Model for End Stage Liver Disease score were associated with lower waitlist mortality and higher transplant rate for candidates signing a donor card without significantly affecting access to transplant during allocation. Further research and consideration of optimal policy when granting priority for candidates signing a donor card should continue.



Stoler, Avraham,  Judd B. Kessler, Tamar Ashkenazi, Alvin E. Roth, Jacob Lavee, “Incentivizing Authorization for Deceased Organ Donation with Organ Allocation Priority: the First Five Years,” American Journal of Transplantation, Volume 16, Issue 9, September 2016,  2639–2645.

 Stoler, Avraham, Judd B. Kessler, Tamar Ashkenazi, Alvin E. Roth, Jacob Lavee, “Incentivizing Organ Donor Registrations with Organ Allocation Priority,”, Health Economics, April 2016 Volume: 26   Issue: 4   Pages: 500-510   APR 2017

Monday, March 18, 2024

Eyal Winter's historical novel "Anna's Children"

 Eyal Winter, the eminent Israeli economist (who was a postdoc of mine a lifetime ago, in Pittsburgh), has published a novel called Anna's Children, about his aunt, who tried to rescue 22 orphans after Kristallnacht. It's discussed in this interview in Haaretz (and there is another link to the article here if the one below doesn't work).

'The Idea That Who You Are Is Only Genetics Is the Essence of Evil' A new book by Prof. Eyal Winter, an economist and games theory researcher, tells the story of his aunt, a woman of high society in pre-Nazi Germany, who tried to rescue 22 orphans from the Holocaust.  by Gili Izikovich

"Winter, 64, is no stranger to writing, but "Anna's Children" is his first novel. He was born and raised in Jerusalem and now lives in a bright, beautiful stone house in the suburb of Mevasseret Zion.


"Is this a good time to publish a book about the Holocaust?

"I pondered a lot about the link between the Holocaust and what happened in October," says Winter. "I considered delaying the book. It's a difficult story with a bad ending, but it also has elements of comfort given what is happening with us. It's possible to understand our reactions to the contemporary situation and maybe make it easier somehow."


Here's his related post on Linkedin: Eyal Winter’s Post

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Privacy while driving

 Internet connected cars collect lots of data on driving behavior, which can be sold to insurance companies and used to change drivers' insurance rates.

The NYT has the story:

Automakers Are Sharing Consumers’ Driving Behavior With Insurance Companies . LexisNexis, which generates consumer risk profiles for the insurers, knew about every trip G.M. drivers had taken in their cars, including when they sped, braked too hard or accelerated rapidly.   By Kashmir Hill

"LexisNexis is a New York-based global data broker with a “Risk Solutions” division that caters to the auto insurance industry and has traditionally kept tabs on car accidents and tickets. 


"In recent years, insurance companies have offered incentives to people who install dongles in their cars or download smartphone apps that monitor their driving, including how much they drive, how fast they take corners, how hard they hit the brakes and whether they speed. But “drivers are historically reluctant to participate in these programs,” as Ford Motor put it in a patent application that describes what is happening instead: Car companies are collecting information directly from internet-connected vehicles for use by the insurance industry.

"Sometimes this is happening with a driver’s awareness and consent. Car companies have established relationships with insurance companies, so that if drivers want to sign up for what’s called usage-based insurance — where rates are set based on monitoring of their driving habits — it’s easy to collect that data wirelessly from their cars.

But in other instances, something much sneakier has happened. Modern cars are internet-enabled, allowing access to services like navigation, roadside assistance and car apps that drivers can connect to their vehicles to locate them or unlock them remotely. In recent years, automakers, including G.M., Honda, Kia and Hyundai, have started offering optional features in their connected-car apps that rate people’s driving. Some drivers may not realize that, if they turn on these features, the car companies then give information about how they drive to data brokers like LexisNexis.

"Automakers and data brokers that have partnered to collect detailed driving data from millions of Americans say they have drivers’ permission to do so. But the existence of these partnerships is nearly invisible to drivers, whose consent is obtained in fine print and murky privacy policies that few read.

"Especially troubling is that some drivers with vehicles made by G.M. say they were tracked even when they did not turn on the feature — called OnStar Smart Driver — and that their insurance rates went up as a result."

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Match Day for new doctors

 The 2024 Match for new American doctors was announced yesterday by the NRMP, the National Resident Matching Program. Congratulations to all!

Here are some links:

Advance Data Tables
Match By the Numbers
Press Release

Friday, March 15, 2024

Plasma in Canada: payments and protests

 The local newspaper in Niagara on the Lake, a town in Ontario, Canada, covers the proposed opening next year of plasma collection centers that will pay for plasma.

Pay-for-plasma centre draws criticism from Health Coalition. The centre, which will pay residents to donate their blood plasma, is scheduled to open on Hespeler Road by early 2025, by Matt Betts

"The chair of the Waterloo Region Health Coalition is raising concerns about a pay-for-plasma centre slated to open on Hespeler Road in Cambridge by early 2025.

"Just as it sounds, residents can be compensated for donating their blood plasma.

"It's all part of an agreement between Spanish global healthcare company, Grifols, and the Canadian Blood Services.

"In September 2022, Canadian Blood Services announced our action plan in response to a global shortage of medications called immunoglobulins and plasma needed to make them," CBS said in an email to CambridgeToday.

"With funding from governments, Canadian Blood Services is opening 11 plasma donor centres in Canada and collecting more plasma ourselves. Our agreement with Grifols, a global healthcare company and leader in producing plasma medicines, is another part of that plan."


"paying for donations is banned in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. 

"However, CBS said its been in close discussions with the government and has an exemption.


"The agreement also complies with Ontario’s Voluntary Blood Donations Act, which has always contained an exemption for Canadian Blood Services, with implicit consideration of our agents, given our role as the national blood operator and supplier of blood products in Canada. Through our agreement, Grifols will operate under the Act as an agent of Canadian Blood Services."

"Per the agreement, Grifols must use plasma they collect in Canada to make immunoglobulins exclusively for patients in Canada, which reduces reliance on the global market, CBS said.

"But the whole operation doesn't sit right with Waterloo Region Health Coalition chair, Jim Stewart.

"It's a repugnant example of profit driven healthcare," Stewart said, questioning who's profiting in the end.

"What's next, paying people for their organs or embryos? This is just another example of Premier Doug Ford’s drive to privatize our healthcare system."


""These pay-for-donations centres really impact the homeless, people with low incomes and those with high levels of unemployment. This is going to dismantle the voluntary donor base and the sustainability of blood supply could be in jeopardy."


"While not confirmed by Grifols, Canadian Blood Resources and states qualified donors can earn up to $70 per donation and can donate twice in a seven day period."


HT: Frank McCormick


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Thursday, March 14, 2024

New Zealand repeals anti-smoking law that would have prevented tobacco sales to anyone born after 2008

 In an earlier blog post, I wrote about a New Zealand anti-smoking law, saying "And now there's a law that cuts nicotine content of cigarettes, and (get this) "bans the next generation of New Zealanders — anyone born after 2008 or currently 14 years old or younger — from ever buying cigarettes in the country. " (That's going to be a complicated age restriction to administer in, say, 10 years from now...)  

Well, people born in 2008 are turning 16 this year, and New Zealand just repealed that law, for reasons that New Zealand's prime minister Christopher Luxon says include concerns about black markets.

Here's an article from Medpage today, reporting on the change in the law. However the article takes the point of view that black markets are just a smokescreen thrown up by tobacco companies.

Up in Smoke: What Happened to New Zealand's Tobacco Ban Plan?— It appears the new government is making an embarrassing attempt to fend off a budget shortfall. by Eric Trump, March 6, 2024

"As part of the newly elected coalition government's rush to tick 49 "actions"  off its 100-day list by March 8, it has repealed  the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Amendment Act of 2022. This act, passed by the previous Labour government, would have banned selling tobacco products to those born on or after January 1, 2009, reduced the nicotine in tobacco products to non-addictive levels, and slashed the number of outlets allowed to sell tobacco by 90%, from 6,000 to 600. Overall tobacco use was predicted to drop from the current 8% to lower than 5% by 2025, and the act was expected to create a tobacco-free generation.


"Why would New Zealand's new coalition government, an alliance opens in a new tab or window

of the conservative National Party along with the libertarian ACT and populist New Zealand First parties, repeal data-driven and life- and money-saving legislation? Without a shred of evidence, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and his coalition partners have repeatedly claimed restricting tobacco and reducing nicotine levels is experimental (as though that were a bad thing), leading to black marketsopens in a new tab or window and a proliferation of crimeopens in a new tab or window. ACT's health spokesperson Todd Stephenson, for example, said thatopens in a new tab or window the "radical prohibitionism" of creating a smoke-free generation would "push smokers into the arms of gang members."

"This rhetoric uncannily echoes the tobacco lobby. Public health experts at the University of Otago recently released a damning reportopens in a new tab or window showing that the coalition government's arguments in favor of a repeal closely mirror the tobacco industry's own narratives on this subject.

"So suspicious are the similarities between the flimsy remarks of coalition partners and tobacco companies' talking points that the report's authors are calling on all members of parliament to declare any past associations with tobacco companies.



Here's the story about the Prime Minister's concerns, from Radio New Zealand (RNZ):

Smokefree legislation would have driven cigarette black market - Christopher Luxon

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

SITE 2024 Conference: Call For Papers for Summer 2024

 Now is the time to be thinking of submitting papers for the summer sessions at Stanford. (Some deadlines are in April.)

Here's the call for papers:

SITE 2024 Conference: Call For Papers

Stanford Economics is proud to host its annual Stanford Institute for Theoretical Economics (SITE) Conference from July 1 to September 11 2024. SITE sponsors sessions that encompass both economic theory and empirical work and cover a broad range of topics. It brings together established and emerging scholars to present leading-edge economic research, to educate, and to collaborate.

These sessions are scheduled:

  1. Gender  Monday, July 1, 2024, 8:00am - Tuesday, July 2, 2024, 5:00pm
  2. Empirical Implementation of Theoretical Models of Strategic Interaction and Dynamic Behavior  Thursday, July 11, 2024, 8:00am - Friday, July 12, 2024, 5:00pm
  3. Trade and Finance  Thursday, July 25, 2024, 8:00am - Friday, July 26, 2024, 5:00pm
  4. Fiscal Sustainability  Thursday, August 1, 2024, 8:00am - Friday, August 2, 2024, 5:00pm
  5. Dynamic Games, Contracts, and Markets  Monday, August 5, 2024, 8:00am - Wednesday, August 7, 2024, 5:00pm
  6. The Micro and Macro of Labor Markets  Tuesday, August 6, 2024, 8:00am - Wednesday, August 7, 2024, 5:00pm
  7. Political Economic Theory  Thursday, August 8, 2024, 8:00am - Friday, August 9, 2024, 5:00pm
  8. Market Design  Thursday, August 8, 2024, 8:00am - Friday, August 9, 2024, 5:00pm
  9. Market Failures and Public Policy  Wednesday, August 14, 2024, 8:00am - Thursday, August 15, 2024, 5:00pm
  10. Empirical Market Design  Thursday, August 15, 2024, 8:00am - Friday, August 16, 2024, 5:00pm
  11. Climate Finance and Banking  Monday, August 19, 2024, 8:00am - Tuesday, August 20, 2024, 8:00am
  12. Frontiers of Macroeconomic Research Wednesday, August 21, 2024, 8:00am - Friday, August 23, 2024, 5:00pm
  13. Experimental Economics  Thursday, August 22, 2024, 8:00am - Friday, August 23, 2024, 5:00pm
  14. Psychology and Economics Monday, August 26, 2024, 8:00am - Tuesday, August 27, 2024, 9:00pm
  15. The Labor Market Experience of Vulnerable Populations of Workers  Monday, August 26, 2024, 8:00am - 5:00pm
  16. Housing and Urban Economics  Wednesday, August 28, 2024, 8:00am - Friday, August 30, 2024, 5:00pm
  17. The Macroeconomics of Uncertainty and Volatility  Wednesday, September 4, 2024, 8:00am - Friday, September 6, 2024, 5:00pm
  18. New Research in Asset Pricing  Wednesday, September 4, 2024, 8:00am - Friday, September 6, 2024, 5:00pm
  19. The Economics of Transparency  Thursday, September 5, 2024, 8:00am - Friday, September 6, 2024, 5:00pm
  20. Financial Regulation  Monday, September 9, 2024, 8:00am - Wednesday, September 11, 2024, 5:00pm

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Kidney exchange between Portugal and Spain, and prospects for global kidney exchange

 Here's an article from a Portuguese hospital that has engaged in kidney exchanges with Spanish hospitals that have resulted in three transplants for Portuguese patients since the program was initiated in 2017.  The paper considers how international kidney exchange can be expanded globally, so as to have significant effects on the health of Portuguese and other patients.  

The concluding  two paragraphs of the paper speak about global kidney exchange, and the controversy that it has aroused, particularly in Spain, where there has been opposition to significant cross-border kidney exchange.

Francisco, José Teixeira, Renata Carvalho, Joana Freitas, Miguel Trigo Coimbra, Sara Vilela, Manuela Almeida, Sandra Tafulo et al. "International Crossed Renal Donation – The Experience of a Single Center," Brazilian Journal of Transplantation, v. 26 (2023)

"Introduction: Kidney transplantation is the preferred treatment for end-stage chronic kidney disease, however, the shortage of organs can result in long waiting times. Living donor kidney transplantation offers an alternative to cadaver donor, but HLA or AB0 incompatibility can represent a significant obstacle. This study aimed to show the results achieved by a Portuguese hospital since its integration into an international cross-donation program, the South Alliance for Transplants (SAT). 

"Methods: The SAT program was founded in 2017 and is made up of ten Spanish hospitals, three Italian hospitals and one Portuguese hospital. The program takes place every 4 months and only enrolls pairs who are incompatible. Organ transport is carried out in partnership with the Portuguese Air Force. 

"Results: Three different crosses were carried out in partnership with three Spanish hospitals, culminating in the transplantation of three Portuguese patients out of a total of seven patients. The first crossing was carried out in March 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the partnership of two Portuguese hospitals and a Spanish hospital, involving 1 donor/recipient pair from each country,... The second occurred in December 2021 with 3 donor/recipient pairs (1 Portuguese in which the recipient had anti-donor antibodies and positive crossmatch with the potential donor; and 2 from two Spanish hospitals),... The third crossing also took place in December 2021 with 2 donor/recipient pairs (1 Portuguese and 1 Spanish)


"A Global Kidney Exchange Program (GKEP), an idea initiated by Rees et al.,16 which involves kidney paired donation between high-income and low-income and medium-income countries (LMICs). Beyond the potential benefits associated with this type of transplantation, similar to those already addressed for international programs, there are concerns about the ethical implications of  such  programs.  They  may  perpetuate  existing  inequalities  between  high  and  low-income  countries,  which  has  motivated  a  statement  from  the  Declaration  of  Istanbul  Custodian  Group.17  Some  critics  argue  that  the  practices  of  most  PRMBs  lack  transparency, leaving room for exploitation and corruption,18 or raise ethical concerns regarding the commodification of organs.19On the other hand, proponents of the idea argue that a GKEP could help address the global shortage of donor organs and provide lifesaving  opportunities  for  patients  in  need.  They  also  note  that  such  programs  could  foster  collaboration  and  information-sharing between countries and institutions, potentially leading to improvements in transplant practices worldwide.16,20 Despite the controversy surrounding the proposal, the idea of a GKEP remains an intriguing possibility for advancing kidney transplantation on a global scale.

"CONCLUSION: Our experience and that of other locations show that programs like these offer numerous benefits, such as expanding the pool of available donors, improving compatibility between donors and recipients, and avoiding the costs and risks associated with desensitization therapies for ABO or HLA incompatible transplantations. These programs represent a valuable option for individuals who require a kidney transplant and can be an effective means of increasing transplant success rates and improving quality of life for patients. However, the success of these programs depends on the number of pairs enrolled. To ensure the success of these programs, there is a need for greater awareness, education, and promotion of their benefits and outcomes among the public, healthcare providers, and policymakers alike.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Global disparities in kidney disease and care

 Here's a report on the availability of treatment of kidney disease around the world.  If you are unlucky enough to have kidney failure (which is a top 10 cause of death), it's good to be in North America or Western Europe. Most countries (70%) have at least a minimal capacity to perform transplants. But if I read the map correctly, preemptive kidney transplants (i.e. transplants before dialysis, in map D below) are relatively common only in the U.S., Britain, and Norway. (And worldwide, a transplant costs less than two years of dialysis...)

Bello, A.K., Okpechi, I.G., Levin, A., Ye, F., Damster, S., Arruebo, S., Donner, J.A., Caskey, F.J., Cho, Y., Davids, M.R. and Davison, S.N., 2024. An update on the global disparities in kidney disease burden and care across world countries and regions. The Lancet Global Health, 12(3), pp.e382-e395.


"Since 2015, the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) Global Kidney Health Atlas (ISN-GKHA) has spearheaded multinational efforts to understand the status and capacity of countries to provide optimal kidney care, particularly in low-resource settings. In this iteration of the ISN-GKHA, we sought to extend previous findings by assessing availability, accessibility, quality, and affordability of medicines, kidney replacement therapy (KRT), and conservative kidney management (CKM).



The literature review used information on prevalence of chronic kidney disease from 161 countries. The global median prevalence of chronic kidney disease was 9·5% (IQR 5·9–11·7) with the highest prevalence in Eastern and Central Europe (12·8%, 11·9–14·1). For the survey analysis, responses received covered 167 (87%) of 191 countries, representing 97·4% (7·700 billion of 7·903 billion) of the world population. Chronic haemodialysis was available in 162 (98%) of 165 countries, chronic peritoneal dialysis in 130 (79%), and kidney transplantation in 116 (70%). However, 121 (74%) of 164 countries were able to provide KRT to more than 50% of people with kidney failure. Children did not have access to haemodialysis in 12 (19%) of 62 countries, peritoneal dialysis in three (6%) countries, or kidney transplantation in three (6%) countries. CKM (non-dialysis management of people with kidney failure chosen through shared decision making) was available in 87 (53%) of 165 countries. The annual median costs of KRT were: US$19 380 per person for haemodialysis, $18 959 for peritoneal dialysis, and $26 903 for the first year of kidney transplantation. Overall, 74 (45%) of 166 countries allocated public funding to provide free haemodialysis at the point of delivery; use of this funding scheme increased with country income level. The median global prevalence of nephrologists was 11·8 per million population (IQR 1·8–24·8) with an 80-fold difference between low-income and high-income countries. Differing degrees of health workforce shortages were reported across regions and country income levels. A quarter of countries had a national chronic kidney disease-specific strategy (41 [25%] of 162) and chronic kidney disease was recognised as a health priority in 78 (48%) of 162 countries.

Figure 3 Worldwide incidence of general, deceased-donor, living-donor, and pre-emptive kidney transplantations (cases pmp per year) (A) Incidence of kidney transplantation. (B) Incidence of deceased-donor kidney transplantation. (C) Incidence of living-donor kidney transplantation. (D) Incidence of pre-emptive kidney transplantation. pmp=per million population

Even in the U.S., we aren't able to supply enough transplantable kidneys for everyone who needs one. Domestic kidney exchange helps fill some of the gap, but the gap, and the resulting number of premature deaths, is still huge.  It's enough to make you think about global kidney exchange...