Sunday, June 30, 2024

Stanford SITE, summer 2024 schedule

 SITE 2024

Stanford Economics is proud to host its annual Stanford Institute for Theoretical Economics (SITE) conference from July 1 to September 11, 2024, on the Stanford campus with sessions on a broad range of economic topics – bringing together established and emerging scholars to present leading-edge economic research, to educate, and to collaborate. 

Program Overview:


Saturday, June 29, 2024

Do Americans Drink Too Much? Politics and science in the debate over guidelines

 The WSJ has the story:

 Do Americans Drink Too Much? Alcohol Is Driving a Debate in Washington. Agencies, lobbyists and lawmakers are fighting over alcohol guidelines due to be updated next year By Kristina Peterson  and Julie Wernau 

"For nearly three decades, federal dietary guidelines have said it is safe for men to have two or fewer drinks a day, and for women to have one. That could change next year when the Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments update recommendations that are part of federal dietary guidelines.


"Alcohol-industry officials and lobbyists have sent materials to government officials questioning the research methods of scientists drafting the recommendations. Alcohol companies have spent millions of dollars lobbying lawmakers, more than a dozen of whom wrote to HHS and USDA on May 30 demanding more information on the process. 

“We don’t want arbitrary decision-making by these agencies that’s not rooted in real science,” said Rep. Andy Barr (R., Ky.), who is co-chair of the Bourbon Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers. The group was founded in 2009 by a lawmaker from Kentucky, which considers itself the birthplace of bourbon, and now has around 40 members. 


"Guiding Americans to drink less would be a blow to an industry that is already losing some customers. Younger generations have moved away from alcohol over health concerns. For the first time, the U.S. has more daily cannabis users than alcohol users. 

If they want us to drink two beers a week, frankly they can kiss my ass,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said on Newsmax in August of the potential for lower alcohol-consumption guidelines. 


The six-member HHS panel includes three researchers whose studies have demonstrated that any amount of alcohol can be harmful: Tim Naimi, director of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research; Jürgen Rehm, senior scientist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health; and Kevin Shield, an independent scientist who runs a World Health Organization center on addiction."

Friday, June 28, 2024

Getting a Federal judicial clerkship, and then clerking

 If all has gone according to plan, law students who will graduate next June have just matched with a federal clerkship, if they are going to have one.  That plan, meant to bring some order to what has at times been recruiting that unraveled into the first year of law school, is the


"Participation in the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan pertains to the hiring of law school students with two full years of grades in accordance with the timeline set forth below. Students who attend law school part-time or who seek a dual degree may have a later law school graduation date but meet the requirement of having two full years of grades. The dates set forth below do not apply to law school graduates; judges can accept applications, interview, and hire graduates on their own schedule.

"Graduating Class of 2025  For students who entered law school in 2022:

"Judges will not accept formal or informal clerkship applications, or seek or accept formal or informal recommendations, before 12:00 pm EDT on June 10, 2024. Judges also will not directly or indirectly contact applicants, or schedule or conduct formal or informal interviews, or make formal or informal offers, before 12:00 pm EDT on June 11, 2024.

"A judge who makes a clerkship offer will keep it open for at least 24 hours, during which time the applicant will be free to interview with other judges."


The plan goes on to schedule clerkship applications and offers for subsequent years in the same way: everyone should wait for the end of students' second year, and then things will move fast (but fast as in 24 hours as opposed to instantly).

If history is any guide, some judges will cheat, but maybe there won't be too much cheating too soon.

But what happens during the clerkship? Will judges who were bad apples during recruiting turn into supportive mentors?

There's a growing movement among former clerks to recognize that not every clerkship is a cakewalk, and to offer support for clerks who face varying degrees of abuse.

The blog Above the Law takes note of this with a recent post:

Judicial Clerkships Are Not An Unadulterated Good. Clerkships are not all unicorns and fairy dust.  bBy ALIZA SHATZMAN

She notes " A judge who will not afford you time to consider the offer — before you commit several years down the road for a particularly consequential year or two of your life — is probably not someone you want to work for."

And she is the founder of The Legal Accountability Project, which proposes to provide a platform for sharing information about clerkships:

"The Legal Accountability Project’s mission is to ensure that law clerks have positive clerkship experiences, while extending support and resources to those who do not. " 

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Freakonomics interviews John Cawley about celebrity advertisements and repugnance (when the celebrity goes bad)

 My email this morning included this announcement:

"Thank you for sitting down with Freakonomics Radio to discuss your work. The episode "Your Brand’s Spokesperson Just Got Arrested — Now What?" includes your interview and has just been released. You can listen and find the transcript on our website here, or download on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. We will be posting the episode on our Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages and would love it if you could share it on your social media as well."

The episode interviews John Cawley about this paper:

The Role of Repugnance in Markets: How the Jared Fogle Scandal Affected Patronage of Subway  by John Cawley, Julia Eddelbuettel, Scott Cunningham, Matthew D. Eisenberg, Alan D. Mathios & Rosemary J. Avery NBER WORKING PAPER 31782 DOI 10.3386/w31782  October 2023

And they chat with me a bit about repugnance.

I had blogged about that paper here:

Saturday, October 21, 2023


Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Feedback (from Trump campaign) on open letter by economists

 I get asked to sign many letters, and  while I'm generally reluctant to venture beyond my own specific areas of expertise into areas in which others are more expert, I recently signed one circulated by Joe Stiglitz, aimed to respond to some egregious campaign disinformation. 

Sixteen Nobel Prize-winning economists warn a second Trump term would ‘reignite' inflation By Rebecca Picciotto,CNBC

The letter got this reaction from the campaign in question:

"The American people don't need worthless out of touch Nobel peace prize winners to tell them which president put more money in their pockets," Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt said in a statement to CNBC." (emphasis added)

I'll listen for that line in tomorrow night's debate.

Update: here's a link that contains the whole letter 

It begins this way:

"We the undersigned are deeply concerned about the risks of a second Trump administration for the U.S. economy. 

"Among the most important determinants of economic success are the rule of law and economic and political certainty. For a country like the U.S., which is embedded in deep relationships with other countries, conforming to international norms and having normal and stable relationships with other countries is also an imperative. Donald Trump and the vagaries of his actions and policies threaten this stability and the U.S.'s standing in the world. "

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Participating in the Haj through the black market

 Saudi Arabia is a bit more open to tourism than it used to be, and that may be making it easier for black market operators to bring pilgrims on the Haj to Mecca without paying the required fees and getting the customary accomodations.

The NYT has the story:

Pilgrim Deaths in Mecca Put Spotlight on Underworld Hajj Industry  Most of the more than 1,300 people who died making the Islamic pilgrimage were not formally registered, a Saudi official said. That left them with little access to protection from the brutal heat.  By Emad Mekay and Vivian Nereim

"The deaths of more than a thousand pilgrims in Saudi Arabia for the hajj have put a spotlight on an underworld of illicit tour operators, smugglers and swindlers who profit off Muslims desperate to meet their religious duty to travel to Mecca.

"While registered pilgrims are transported around the shrines in air-conditioned buses and rest in air-conditioned tents, undocumented ones are often exposed to the elements, making them more vulnerable to extreme heat. 


"the Saudi health minister, Fahd al-Jalajel, said that 83 percent of the more than 1,300 deaths occurred among pilgrims who had not had official permits.

“The rise in temperatures during the hajj season represented a big challenge this year,” he said. “Unfortunately — and this is painful for all of us — those who didn’t have hajj permits walked long distances under the sun.”


"because so many of the pilgrims who died this year were performing the pilgrimage without official documentation, their deaths exposed the underworld of unlicensed tour operators, smugglers and swindlers who take advantage of pilgrims desperate to perform the hajj, helping them evade the regulations.


"In interviews with The New York Times, hajj tour operators, pilgrims and relatives of the dead said the number of undocumented pilgrims appeared to have been driven up by rising economic desperation in countries like Egypt and Jordan. An official hajj package can cost more than $5,000 or $10,000, depending on a pilgrim’s country of origin — far beyond the means of many hoping to make the trip.

"But they also described easily exploited loopholes in Saudi Arabia’s regulations that allowed undocumented pilgrims to travel to the kingdom with a tourist or visitor visa several weeks ahead of hajj. Once they arrive, they find a network of illegal brokers and smugglers who offer their services, take their money and sometimes abandon them to fend for themselves, they said."

Monday, June 24, 2024

Buying exit from Gaza

 It's hard to leave Gaza.

The NYT has the story:

When the Only Escape From War in Gaza Is to Buy a Way Out . For many Palestinians, securing approval to exit the territory is possible only after raising thousands of dollars to pay middlemen or an Egyptian company.  By Adam Rasgon

"The only way for almost all people in Gaza to escape the horrors of the war between Israel and Hamas is by leaving through neighboring Egypt.

"And that is usually a complicated and expensive ordeal, involving the payment of thousands of dollars to an Egyptian company that can get Palestinians on an approved travel list to cross the border.

...Over the past eight months, an estimated 100,000 people have left Gaza, Diab al-Louh, the Palestinian ambassador to Egypt, said in an interview. Though some managed to get out through connections to foreign organizations or governments, for many Gazans, exiting the territory is possible only by way of Hala, a firm that appears to be closely connected to the Egyptian government.


"Other pathways out of Gaza exist, but many of them require large payments, too. One route is to pay unofficial middlemen in the enclave or in Egypt, who demand $8,000 to $15,000 per person in exchange for arranging their departure within days, according to four Palestinians who either made the payments or tried to.


"Hala charges $5,000 to coordinate the exits of most people 16 and older and $2,500 for most who are below that age, according to seven people who have gone through this process or tried to do so."

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Black markets for cigarettes in Gaza

 The WSJ has the story:

At $25 Each, Cigarettes Are Turning Gaza Aid Trucks Into Targets  By Stephen Kalin, Dov Lieber and Fatima AbdulKarim

"A group of Palestinian men approached a United Nations warehouse in central Gaza last week and demanded access to aid stored inside. The gang wasn’t interested in food, fuel or medicine. It wanted something it considered far more valuable: contraband cigarettes hidden in the humanitarian cargo.

"The incident, described by a U.N. official, is emblematic of a significant new impediment to aid deliveries in the enclave. Rampant cigarette smuggling—fueled by high prices for tobacco—has become the latest manifestation of a breakdown in law and order that is slowing the delivery of lifesaving assistance.

"Aid trucks and storage depots have become targets for Palestinian smugglers seeking to retrieve illicit smokes stashed inside shipments by their accomplices, say U.N. and Israeli officials. Other local criminals are also attacking vehicles they suspect have cigarettes hidden somewhere on board, they say.

"Cigarettes sell for as much as $25 apiece in isolated Gaza, so getting hold of even a pack can be enormously profitable.


"A second U.N. official said that on Tuesday, three armed men arrived at another U.N. warehouse in central Gaza, demanding to search through the aid. They found the cigarettes they were looking for in a box of aid. The Wall Street Journal viewed a picture of the box with a U.N. logo ripped open, exposing cartons of Karelia cigarettes inside.

“Cigarettes have become like the new gold in Gaza,” the official said."

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Experimental Economics sessions at Stanford (SITE) this summer

Here's the preliminary program for this summer's experimental economics at Stanford. 

Session 13: Experimental Economics

Thu, Aug 22 2024, 8:00am - Fri, Aug 23 2024, 5:00pm PDT

John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Building, 366 Galvez Street, Stanford, CA 94035


Christine Exley, University of Michigan

Judd Kessler, University of Pennsylvania

Muriel Niederle, Stanford University

Alvin Roth, Stanford University

Lise Vesterlund, University of Pittsburgh

This workshop will be dedicated to advances in experimental economics combining laboratory and field-experimental methodologies with theoretical and psychological insights on decision-making, strategic interaction and policy. We would invite papers in lab experiments, field experiments and their combination that test theory, demonstrate the importance of psychological phenomena, and explore social and policy issues. In addition to senior faculty members, invited presenters will include junior faculty as well as graduate students.

Thursday, August 22, 2024

9:30 AM - 10:00 AM PDT

Check-In & Breakfast

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM PDT

Flexible Pay and Labor Supply: Evidence from Uber’s Instant Pay

Presented by: Keith Chen (University of California, Los Angeles)

Co-author(s): Katherine Feinerman (University of California, Los Angeles) and Kareem Haggag (University of California, Los Angeles)

Modern tech platforms provide workers real-time control over when they work, and increasingly, flexible pay: the option to be paid immediately after work. We investigate the labor supply effects of pay flexibility and the implications of present-biased preferences among gig-economy workers. Using granular data from a nationwide randomized controlled trial at Uber, we estimate the effects of switching from a fixed weekly pay schedule to Instant Pay, a system that allows on-demand, within-day withdrawals. We find that flexible pay substantially increased both drivers’ work time and earnings (ITT 2%; TOT: 18-37%). Furthermore, the response is significantly higher when drivers are further away from the end of their counterfactual weekly pay cycle, aligning with predictions of hyperbolic discounting models. We discuss welfare and broader implications in contexts in which workers have the ability to flexibly supply labor.

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM PDT

Eviction as Bargaining Failure: Hostility and Misperceptions in the Rental Housing Market

Presented by: Charlie Rafkin (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Co-author(s): Evan Soltas (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Court evictions from rental housing are common but could be avoided if landlords and tenants bargained instead. Such evictions are inefficient if they are costlier than bargaining. We test for two potential causes of inefficient eviction — hostile social preferences and misperceptions — by conducting lab-in-the-field experiments in Memphis, Tennessee with 1,808 tenants at risk of eviction and 371 landlords of at-risk tenants. We detect heterogeneous social preferences: 24% of tenants and 15% of landlords exhibit hostility, giving up money to hurt the other in real-stakes Dictator Games, yet more than 50% of both are highly altruistic. Both parties misperceive court or bargaining payoffs in ways that undermine bargaining. Motivated by the possibility of inefficient eviction, we evaluate the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, a prominent policy intervention, and find small impacts on eviction in an event-study design. To quantify the share of evictions that are inefficient, we estimate a bargaining model using the lab-in-the-field and event-study evidence. Due to hostile social preferences and misperceptions, one in four evictions results from inefficient bargaining failure. More than half would be inefficient without altruism. Social preferences weaken policy: participation in emergency rental assistance is selected on social preferences, which attenuates the program’s impacts despite the presence of inefficiency.

10:45 AM - 11:00 AM PDT

Workplace Hostility

Presented by: Manuela Collis (University of Toronto)

Co-author(s): Clémentine Van Effenterre (University of Toronto)

We conduct a choice experiment with 2,048 participants, recruited among upper-year students, recent graduates, and alums from a large public university, to understand how much individuals value a workplace free of hostility and whether this can be offset with hybrid or solo work arrangements. In the experiment, we ask respondents to choose between two job offers for thirteen distinct and realistic scenarios. Our experiment shows that people are willing to forgo a significant portion of their earnings to avoid hostile work environments—15 to 30 percent of their wage. Women report a stronger preference for inclusive workplaces and environments free of sexual harassment. We also find that women value hybrid work twice as much in the presence of sexual harassment and value teamwork more in non-inclusive environments. Based on these findings, we introduce a model of compensating differentials to understand how the presence of hostility shapes the demand for alternative work arrangements and to implement policy counterfactuals.

11:00 AM - 11:30 AM PDT  Coffee Break

11:30 AM - 12:00 PM PDT

Why Exclude Test Scores from Admission Decisions?

Presented by: Yucheng Liang (Carnegie Mellon University)

Co-author(s): Wenzhuo Xu (Carnegie Mellon University)

One major argument in support of test-optional and test-blind college admission policies is that standardized test scores inaccurately reflect students’ abilities and are biased against those with fewer resources. This argument goes against standard economic reasoning as information, even if noisy or biased, never has negative value. In an experiment, we show that participants responsible for admitting students for an educational opportunity are indeed willing to exclude invalid or biased test scores from their admission criteria. This result is primarily driven by procedural fairness concerns and an underestimation of the scores’ usefulness. However, this underestimation can be mitigated through experience in making admission decisions both with and without these test scores.

12:00 PM - 12:30 PM PDT

Mechanism Design for Personalized Policy: A Field Experiment Incentivizing Exercise

Presented by: Rebecca Dizon-Ross (University of Chicago)

Co-author(s): Ariel Zucker(University of California, Santa Cruz)

Personalizing policies can theoretically increase their effectiveness. However, personalization is difficult when individual types are unobservable and the preferences of policymakers and individuals are not aligned, which could cause individuals to mis-report their type. Mechanism design offers a strategy to overcome this issue: offer a menu of policy choices, and make it incentive-compatible for participants to choose the “right” variant. Using a field experiment that personalized incentives for exercise among 6,800 adults with diabetes and hypertension in urban India, we show that personalizing with an incentive-compatible choice menu substantially improves program performance, increasing the treatment e↵ect of incentives on exercise by 80% with-out increasing program costs relative to a one-size-fits-all benchmark. Personalizing with mechanism design also performs well relative to another potential strategy for personalization: assigning policy variants based on observables.

2:00 PM - 2:30 PM PDT

What Money Shouldn’t Buy: Aversion to Monetary Incentives for Health Behaviors

Presented by: Florian H. Schneider (University of Copenhagen)

Co-author(s): Pol Campos-Mercade (Lund University and Institute for Future Studies), Armando Meier (University of Basel) and Roberto A. Weber (University of Zurich)

We study attitudes towards offering monetary payments for health behaviors, aiming to understand how such attitudes may influence the use of monetary incentives as a policy instrument. We develop the Policy Lab, an experimental paradigm in which participants decide whether to provide a set of others with monetary incentives for vaccination. In two studies with representative samples of the Swedish population (N=2,010) and one with Swedish policymakers (N=2,008), a majority of participants oppose using direct financial incentives. Despite the widespread perception that such incentives are an effective policy instrument, opposition to their use is driven by perceptions that they are coercive and unethical. Policymakers are, if anything, slightly more opposed to the use of direct financial incentives. We also document that opposition to incentives extends beyond vaccination to other health domains. Our findings suggest that public opposition to the use of monetary incentives as a policy instrument may create barriers to their adoption.

2:30 PM - 3:00 PM PDT

Goals, Expectations, and Performance

Presented by: Alexandra Steiny Wellsjo (University of California, San Diego)

Co-author(s): Avner Strulov-Shlain (University of Chicago)

People and organizations often set goals to self-motivate and achieve better outcomes in challenging tasks. But goals, and their effectiveness, might depend on what people expect to happen. Do goals reflect expectations or do goals set expectations? How do goals and expectations affect performance? We run an online real-effort task to answer these two questions by introducing exogenous variation in goals and expectations. First, we find that goals mostly reflect expectations rather than affect them. Second, practicing an easier version of a task leads to higher expectations and higher performance. Eliciting a goal leads to higher performance as well. However, controlling for expectations, changing the difficulty of the goal has no discernible effect. These results suggest that people should come in optimistic and set a goal, but they cannot fool themselves into expecting and doing more simply by choosing a higher goal.

3:00 PM - 3:30 PM PDT

Coffee Break

3:30 PM - 4:00 PM PDT

Understanding Expert Choices Using Decision Time

Presented by: Stefano DellaVigna (University of California, Berkeley)

Co-author(s): David Card (University of California, Berkeley), Chenxi Jiang (University of California, Berkeley), and Dmitry Taubinsky (University of California, Berkeley)

Laboratory experiments find a robust relationship between decision times and perceived values of alternatives. This paper investigates how these findings translate to experts’ decision making and information acquisition in the field. In a stylized model of expert choice between two alternatives, we show that (i) less-commonly chosen al- ternatives are more likely to be chosen later than earlier; (ii) decision time is higher when the likelihood of choosing each alternative is closer to fifty percent; and (iii) the ultimate quality of the chosen alternative may increase or decrease with decision time, depending on whether earlier or later signals are more informative. We test these pre-dictions in the editorial setting, where we observe proxies for paper quality and signals available to editors. We document that (i) the probability of a positive decision rises with decision time; (ii) average decision time is higher when our estimated probability of a positive decision is closer to fifty percent; and (iii) paper quality is positively (negatively) related to decision time for papers with Reject (R&R) decisions. Structural estimates show that the additional information acquired in editorial delays is modest, and has little impact on the quality of decisions.

4:00 PM - 4:15 PM PDT

Choosing Between Information Bundles

Presented by: Menglong Guan (Penn State University)

This paper presents an experimental study on how people choose sets of information sources (referred to as information bundles). The findings reveal that subjects frequently fail to choose the more instrumentally valuable bundle in binary choices, largely due to the challenge of integrating the information sources within a bundle to identify their joint information content. The mistakes in choices can not be attributed to an inability to use information bundles. Instead, these mistakes are strongly ex-plained by subjects’ tendency to follow a simple but imperfect heuristic when valuing them, which I call “common source cancellation (CSC)”. The heuristic causes subjects to mistakenly disregard the common information source in two bundles and focus solely on the comparison of the sources that the two bundles do not share. As a result, choices between information bundles are made without adequately considering the joint information content of each bundle. Notably, CSC emerges as a robust explanation for the information bundle choices for all subjects, including those who make perfect use of information bundles to make inferences.

4:15 PM - 4:30 PM PDT

Persuasion through Simulation

Presented by: John J. Conlon (Stanford University)

Co-author(s): Spencer Y. Kwon (Brown University)

We describe and experimentally test a model where an agent facing a complex decision forms beliefs by sampling or “simulating” relevant scenarios. Crucially, simulation is subject to cuing: scenarios similar to the agent’s current context are more easily simulated, and a persuader can manipulate the agents’ beliefs by altering this context. Even objectively uninformative messages simply highlighting known scenarios can be persuasive if they facilitate simulation of otherwise neglected scenarios. Experimentally, participants’ beliefs (about a lottery outcome and about others’ actions in a dictator game) are highly susceptible to such persuasion through simulation. We then study a consumer choice setting where a firm can cue its potential customers with particular scenarios and designs products with such “advertising” in mind. The firm chooses to highlight a single most compelling scenario and produces excessively “specialized” goods, with utility concentrated in scenarios its ads target. When the firm produces multiple goods, it additionally needs to consider how their ads cue each other. This force generates endogenous brands: products that the firm chooses to associate or dissociate depending on which scenarios it wants its consumers to simulate.

Friday, August 23, 2024

10:00 AM - 10:30 AM PDT

Who You Gonna Call? Gender Inequality in External Demand For Parental Involvement

Presented by: Olga Stoddard (Brigham Young University)

Co-author(s): Kristy Buzard (Syracuse University) and Laura K. Gee (Tufts University)

Gender imbalance in time spent on children causes labor market gender inequalities. We investigate a novel source of this inequality: external demands for parental involvement. We pair a theoretical model with a large-scale field experiment with a near-universe of US schools. Schools receive an email from a two-parent household and are asked to contact one parent. Mothers are 1.4 times more likely than fathers to be contacted. We decompose this inequality into discrimination stemming from differential beliefs about parents’ responsiveness versus other factors, including gender norms. Our findings underscore how agents outside the household contribute to gender inequalities.

10:30 AM - 11:00 AM PDT

Precautionary Debt Capacity

Presented by: Olivia Kim (Harvard University)

Co-author(s): Deniz Aydin (Washington University in St. Louis)

Firms with ample financial slack are unconstrained... or are they? In a field experiment that randomly expands debt capacity on business credit lines, treated small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) draw down 35 cents on the dollar of expanded debt capacity in the short-run and 55 cents in the long-run despite having debt levels far below their borrowing limit before the intervention. SMEs direct new borrowing to financing investment gradually over time and do not exhibit a measurable impact on delinquencies. Heterogeneity analysis by the risk of being at the credit line limit supports the SME motive to preserve financial flexibility.

11:00 AM - 11:30 AM PDT

Coffee Break

11:30 AM - 12:00 PM PDT

Pushing the Envelope: The Effects of Negotiating

Presented by: Zoë Cullen (Harvard University)

12:00 PM - 12:30 PM PDT

Gender Diversity Improves Academic Performance

Presented by: Xiaoyue Shan (National University of Singapore)

This paper uses a field experiment in a first-semester course at a Swiss university to examine the impact of gender diversity on academic performance. 2,580 students across six cohorts are randomly assigned into 645 study groups with varying gender composition. Results show that group gender diversity significantly raises students’ course performance, especially for men. Moving from homogeneous to gender-balanced groups increases course grade by about 15% standard deviations. Analyses of mechanisms reveal that diversity enhances peer-to-peer interaction and students’ mental health, self-esteem, self-confidence, and group satisfaction. Diversity appears to lower women’s study effort and leads them to hold significantly more traditional gender attitudes, which may have limited diversity’s impact on their performance. The findings of this paper highlight the value of gender diversity in improving student performance and well-being in higher education.

12:30 PM - 2:00 PM PDT  Lunch

2:00 PM - 2:30 PM PDT

Over- and Underreaction to Information

Presented by: Cuimin Ba (University of Pittsburgh)

Co-author(s): J. Aislinn Bohren (University of Pennslyvania) and Alex Imas (University of Chicago)

This paper explores the impact of the learning environment on how people react to information. We develop a model of belief-updating where people respond to complexity by forming a representation of the environment that channels attention to states that are most salient given the observed information. They then use this distorted representation to process the information using Bayes’ rule, subject to cognitive imprecision. The model predicts overreaction when environments are complex, signals are noisy, or priors are concentrated on less salient states; it predicts underreaction when environments are simple, signals are precise, or priors concentrated on salient states. Results from a series of pre-registered experiments provide support for these predictions and demonstrate their robustness across different learning environments and decision domains. We then provide evidence for the specific cognitive mechanisms by manipulating attention and salience directly. We also show that the proposed model is highly complete in capturing explainable variation in belief-updating; moreover, the interaction between psychological mechanisms is critical to explaining belief data in more complex settings. These results connect disparate findings in prior work: underreaction is typically found in laboratory studies, which feature simple learning settings, while overreaction is prevalent in financial markets, which feature more complex environments.

2:30 PM - 3:00 PM PDT

Numbers Tell, Words Sell

Presented by: Michael Thaler (University College London)

Co-author(s): Mattie Toma (University of Warwick) and Victor Yaneng Wang (University of Oxford)

3:00 PM - 3:30 PM PDT

Coffee Break

3:30 PM - 4:00 PM PDT

A competitive world

Presented by: Bertil Tungodden (NHH Norwegian School of Economics)

Co-author(s): Thomas Buser (University of Amsterdam), Alexander W. Cappelen (NHH Norwegian School of Economics), and Uri Gneezy (University of California, San Diego)

We elicit willingness to compete in large and representative samples in 62 countries covering all continents. We also shed light on the socialization of boys and girls around the globe by eliciting the importance adults attach to boys’ and girls’ willingness to compete. Globally, a clear majority of people are willing to compete against others and find it important that children are willing to compete. Nevertheless, the shares vary strongly across countries and we show that this variation is correlated with inequality: people in more unequal countries are more competitive and find it more important that children are willing to compete. We also document some near-universal patterns that replicate the main findings of the competitiveness literature at a global scale: in all but one country, men are more competitive than women, and in the vast majority of countries willingness to compete is positively associated with income and level of education. Despite the near-universal gender gap in competitiveness among adults, people in many – mostly Western – countries place greater importance on girls’ than boys’ willingness to compete.

4:00 PM - 4:15 PM PDT

Breaking the Spiral of Silence

Presented by: Yihong Huang (Harvard University)

Co-author(s): Yuen Ho (University of California, Berkeley)

The Spiral of Silence theory plays a crucial role in contemporary political discourse. According to this idea, people who hold views perceived as socially inappropriate tend to self-censor, generating a distribution of expressed views that is skewed towards appropriate opinions. If the attention paid to silence is limited, this can exacerbate self-censorship and create an equilibrium where only socially appropriate views are expressed and considered dominant. We experimentally test this hypothesis based on a simple model in which self-censorship and limited attention to silence interact to jointly establish equilibrium norms. In our experiment, UC Berkeley undergraduates discuss controversial political and socioeconomic issues. Students with socially inappropriate views self-censor to a significant degree. Given the limited attention students pay to silence, self-censorship amplifies over time. We experimentally increase the salience of silence, and show that this affects both beliefs about others’ views and public expression decisions. Because inference and expression amplify each other, different levels of attention to silence can produce divergent perceived social norms in equilibrium.

4:15 PM - 4:30 PM PDT

Social Media and Job Market Success: A Field Experiment on Twitter

Presented by: Jingyi Qiu (University of Michigan)

Co-author(s): Yan Chen (University of Michigan), Alain Cohn (University of Michigan), and Alvin Roth (Stanford University)

We conducted a field experiment on Twitter to examine how social media promotion affects job market outcomes in economics. We tweeted 519 candidates’ job market papers from our research account and randomly assigned half of these tweets to be quote-tweeted by prominent economists in their fields. We find that the quote-tweeted papers received 442% more views and 303% more likes on Twitter. Further- more, treatment group candidates received one more flyout, whereas treatment group women received 0.9 more job offers. Our results suggest that social media promotion can improve the visibility and success of job market candidates, especially women.

Friday, June 21, 2024

How frequently can whole blood safely be donated?

 Maybe only twice a year for people who don't take iron supplements, according to this recent comment (on a randomized trial in the Netherlands).

Protecting the blood donor: ferritin-based intervals to improve donor health, by Laura Infanti, Lancet (online first) Published:June 13, 2024DOI:

"Strict eligibility criteria and the ageing of the general population are among the main factors limiting blood donor availability,1 and render the retention of experienced donors and the acquisition of new volunteers a demanding task. Also, a temporary inability to give blood (eg, due to recent travel or a medical condition) can be a reason for abandoning blood donation permanently.2 Blood establishments are constantly making efforts to counteract blood shortages and the overall declining trends in donations.

"In this context, low haemoglobin concentration, which is the most common reason for donation deferral, is a key risk factor for the loss of active volunteers. Due to the loss of 220–250 mg of iron with each whole-blood donation, iron deficiency with or without anaemia is the most important side-effect of blood donation.


"A strong predictor of iron deficiency is the interval between donations. For healthy individuals not taking iron supplementation, recovering iron stores after the drawing of 450–500 mL of blood requires at least 180 days.6 Several observational studies questioned the minimal donation interval allowed by regulation as being too short for preventing iron deprivation,7 and the randomised INTERVAL study showed that shorter donation intervals, although increasing blood procurement, resulted in more frequent haemoglobin deferrals.8 Indeed, ensuring a sufficient blood supply and protecting healthy volunteers at the same time is very difficult. Thus, despite available evidence, European and US regulations permit whole-blood donations up to once every 56 days for both sexes, although at a maximum of six donations per year for male donors and four donations per year for female donors in Europe.

Here's the study itself:

  • Meulenbeld A, 
  • Ramondt S. 
  • Sweegers MG
  • , et al.
Effectiveness of ferritin-guided donation intervals in whole-blood donors in the Netherlands (FIND'EM): a stepped-wedge cluster-randomised trial.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Kidney transplants for cats

 Kidney transplants for cats are a thing, and they all take the form of kidney exchange with a very short chain, in which the lives of two cats are saved. The donor cat is either an unadopted cat from a 'kill shelter,' or a veteran of a medical research trial, who (as the story below says) would otherwise face a "bleak future." But when such a cat becomes a living kidney donor, it is adopted into the family of the cat who receives the transplant (and I guess it goes without saying that they love cats..)

The Washington Post has the story

.Cat kidney transplants: For some, the pricey procedure is well worth it. The surgery can cost up to $25,000. “I just spent $17,000 on my roof, and I love my cat a lot more than my roof,” one person said.  By Marlene Cimons

"Segal, then living in the Boston area, drove his cat to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia where Despy underwent a kidney transplant in 2018. Today, Despy is thriving. So is Stevie, the kidney donor cat from a local shelter that Segal agreed to adopt as part of the renal transplant.


"Chronic kidney disease is one of the most common conditions in aging cats and a leading cause of death. The disease can be heritable, afflicting young cats such as Despy, and can result from toxin exposure, such as eating lilies.


"Like humans, cats have two kidneys, which filter waste from the body, and can live with just one if that kidney is healthy.

"Kidney transplants in cats began more than 25 years ago, although they still are rare, and only three facilities perform them: Penn Vet, the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine and the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.

"Penn Vet has performed 185 transplants since 1998, the Georgia school more than 40 since 2009, and Wisconsin 87 since 1996.


"Many pet health insurance companies will cover some of the costs for the recipient, but usually not for the donor because “the donor is not the insured pet,” according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. The cost for the donor surgery to harvest the kidney is about 25 percent of the $25,000 total, Aronson says.


"Matching is easier for cats than it is for humans needing a transplant because there are only two blood types among all cats.

"Donors come from cat research breeding facilities or shelters, where they might otherwise have a bleak future, and families whose cats undergo transplants must adopt the donors. “For the cost of a kidney, [the donor cats] get to move in with a cat-loving household and are universally loved by their new adoptive families,” Schmiedt says.


"Transplants other than kidneys in pets aren’t viable because most require the death of the donor. Kidney transplants in dogs can be challenging because, unlike cats, they often suffer problems with immunosuppression, says Aronson, who has performed three. (The dogs survived but did not do as well long-term as cats, she says.)



Monday, November 23, 2020

Colin Sullivan on organ transplant policy (and on the job market this year)

His job market paper is an experiment with an exceptionally creative design. (Spoiler: it involves a cat actually getting a kidney transplant.) 

Eliciting Preferences Over Life And Death: Experimental Evidence From Organ Transplantation by Colin by D. Sullivan

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Centralized assignment mechanisms that don't include all the relevant choices, by Kapor, Karnani and Neilson in the JPE

 One of the issues in organizing a centralized matching mechanism is to make the market thick, by including all or most of the relevant choices in the centralized system.  If not, there will be transactions outside of the centralized marketplace, and some of them may be costly to the system.

Here's a paper that explores that in the context of  college admissions in Chile.

Aftermarket Frictions and the Cost of Off-Platform Options in Centralized Assignment Mechanisms, by Adam Kapor, Mohit Karnani, and Christopher Neilson, Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming.

Abstract: "We study the welfare and human capital impacts of colleges’ (non)participation in Chile’s centralized higher-education platform, leveraging administrative data and two policy changes: the introduction of a large scholarship program and the inclusion of additional institutions, which raised the number of on-platform slots by approximately 40%. We first show that the expansion of the platform raised on-time graduation rates. We then develop and estimate a model of college applications, offers, wait lists, matriculation, and graduation. When the platform expands, welfare increases, and welfare, enrollment, and graduation rates are less sensitive to off-platform frictions. Gains are larger for students from lower-socioeconomic-status backgrounds."

"in virtually every practical implementation there exist many off-platform options that are available to participants of the match. In primary and secondary education, these include private schools or charter schools that do not participate in the centralized system. In other cases, such as higher education, some providers may be excluded from the platform by regulation, while others may choose not to participate. When off-platform options exist, applicants may renege on their assigned matches in favor of programs that did not participate in the centralized process. In turn, these decisions lead to the use of wait lists and aftermarkets, which may be inefficient due to the presence of congestion and matching frictions and can be inequitable if some students are better able to navigate this partially decentralized process, negating some of the benefits of the match.

"In this paper, we study the empirical relevance of the configuration of on- and off-platform options for students’ welfare and for persistence and graduation in higher-education programs. We document the importance of negative externalities generated by off-platform options and quantify a measure of aftermarket frictions that contribute to generating them in practice. Our empirical application uses data from the centralized assignment system for higher education in Chile, which has one of the world’s longest-running college assignment mechanisms based on the deferred-acceptance (DA) algorithm.2 We take advantage of a recent policy change that increased the number of on-platform institutions from 25 to 33, raising the number of available slots by approximately 40%. We first present an analysis of the policy, which shows that when these options are included on the centralized platform, students start college sooner, are less likely to drop out, and are more likely to graduate within 7 years. Importantly, these effects are larger for students from lower-socioeconomic-status (SES) backgrounds, suggesting that the design of platforms can have effects on both efficiency and equity.


"We find that when students are allowed to express their preferences for a larger variety of options on the platform, welfare increases substantially, as does the share of students graduating on time.


"Intuitively, when a desirable program is not on the platform, it can cause some students who would have placed in that program to instead receive a placement in a different program available on the platform. These students may then decline that placement in favor of the off-platform program, creating vacancies that in turn lead to increased reliance on wait lists, which may be subject to frictions. Moreover, the absence of a particular program may distort the placements of other students, even if the students whose placements are affected would never enroll in that program. These students may also be less satisfied and more likely to decline their placement.

"Taken together, our results show empirically that the existence of off-platform options affects the equity and efficiency of centralized assignment systems. "


Earlier (with some links to still earlier papers):

Monday, May 9, 2022

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Kidneys for Communities and first responders

The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York receives national award for helping its members and first responders nationwide battling kidney disease

CLEVELANDJune 14, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York (PBA) has been honored with the Kidneys for Communities National Community Impact Award in recognition of its dedication and commitment to promoting living kidney donation and supporting the organization's members who are living with kidney disease.

Kidneys for Communities, a national community-directed donation program, launched its Kidneys for First Responders program with the PBA in June 2023 after New York City police officer Melissa Quinones' successful living kidney transplant. Since then, Kidneys for Communities has worked with first responder organizations to help members and their families who are in need of a lifesaving kidney transplant.

Kidneys for First Responders provides access to and facilitates living kidney donations by connecting people from around the country who want to help first responders with those who need lifesaving kidneys. The program is based on the Community-Directed Donation model that leverages individuals' affinity with membership-based communities.

Ira Brody, Co-Founder of Kidneys for Communities, presented PBA President Patrick Hendry with the National Community Impact Award at the NYCPBA delegate meeting on June 14, 2024. The NYCPBA is the first organization to receive the award.

"This award is a testament to the unwavering dedication that New York City police officers show every day, whether we're protecting our communities or stepping up to help each other," said Patrick Hendry, PBA president. "The success of Officer Quinones' transplant inspired our entire blue family, showing the profound impact we have when we come together. We are committed to continuing this program and serving our active and retired NYPD police officers, our fellow first responders and their families living with kidney disease."

Killing more people than breast cancer or prostate cancer, kidney disease has in recent years been named by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a leading cause of death in the U.S. Meanwhile, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network reports that approximately 13 people die each day waiting for a kidney transplant.

"The perseverance of the NYCPBA and the passion of the NYPD in rallying around officer Melissa Quinones were a catalyst for the Kidneys for First Responders program," said Atul Agnihotri, Kidneys for Communities chief executive officer and board president. "The PBA's commitment to the program has resulted in the support of many successful kidney transplants for first responders across the country."

The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York (PBA) is the largest municipal police union in the nation and represents nearly 50,000 active and retired New York City police officers.

About Kidneys for Communities
Kidneys for Communities is a nonprofit that partners with organizations to impact the lives of their members by offering resources about living kidney donations to members of their communities, increasing the chances of a donor directing a gift-of-life kidney to a fellow member in need of a kidney. Addressing the shortage of living kidney donors through proactive community outreach programs, Kidneys for Communities developed the first-ever national Community-Directed Donation program.

The program unlocks connections created through membership-based communities, with the goal of increasing the number of living kidney donors in the U.S. through paired kidney exchange.   

The Kidneys for Communities leadership team includes innovative leaders, kidney donors, social workers and medical experts in the fields of nephrology and renal transplantation — all of whom have seen this disease up close and are committed to making an impact.

To find out more about how to help first responders who need a kidney transplant, visit


Friday, March 12, 2021   Kidneys for Communities