Thursday, April 17, 2014

MobLab is free for academic use.

Moblab, the experimental software for using experiments to teach economics, is now free.  This should make it easier to adopt. 

I'm one of their advisors, and I'm very enthusiastic about bringing experiments into the classroom.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Long lasting effects of the window tax at Cambridge University

When I recently spoke at Cambridge, I took this photo at King's College.

Wikipedia has this to say, in general...
The window tax was a property tax based on the number of windows in a house. It was a significant social, cultural, and architectural force in England, France and Scotland during the 18th and 19th centuries. To avoid the tax some houses from the period can be seen to have bricked-up window-spaces (ready to be glazed or reglazed at a later date), as a result of the tax. It was introduced in 1696 and was repealed in 1851, 156 years after first being introduced. Spain and France both had window taxes as well for similar reasons.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New currencies that are a natural for laundering

This post isn't about bitcoin, or about prison economies, although it's closer to the second then the first. Neal Becker points me to this article about the use of Tide detergent as a currency in which you can buy drugs...(the article is mostly about how Tide has become a target for professional shoplifters who can fence it without too much difficulty):

Suds for Drugs
Tide detergent: Works on tough stains. Can now also be traded for crack. A case study in American ingenuity, legal and otherwise.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Polygamy in Kenya

Polygamy is an ancient practice in Kenya, but proposed new legislation that codifies that existing wives need not be consulted about new wives is causing some controversy. Here are two headlines that give the picture even before you start reading the stories...

Kenya’s new marriage law legalises polygamy
Kenyan Christian leaders oppose polygamy bill

From the first story:
"Kenya’s male-dominated parliament passed a new controversial marriage law not only legalises polygamy, but allows men to marry without consulting their other spouses. A majority of lawmakers - all men - even agreed to drop a proposal to ban bride price payments (usually in the form of cows). 
According to local news reports, half of Kenya’s 69 female MPs refused to take part in the debate held in the 349-member parliament last week. The women who did attend parliament stormed out in protest. 
Traditionally, first wives are supposed to give prior approval for their husband’s second marriage. According to Samuel Chepkong’a, the MP who proposed the amendment to this custom, however, no consultation is necessary because a woman who gets married under customary law already knows the marriage is open to polygamy. 
“When you marry an African woman, she must know the second one is on the way and a third wife… this is Africa,” Chepkong’a was quoted as saying by Kenya’s Capital News website. "
And from the second story:
"NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) Christian leaders are appealing to President Uhuru Kenyatta not to sign into law a proposed new marriage bill that legalizes polygamy.
"But the National Council of Churches of Kenya, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, have rejected it, saying the law will undermine Christian principles of marriage and family.
The Rev. Peter Karanja, general secretary the Kenyan church council, said the bill demeans women and fails to respect the principle of spouses’ equality in marriage."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Videos of my Marshall Lectures at Cambridge

On February 18-19 I gave two Marshall Lectures at Cambridge:
I. Labor market clearinghouses for doctors in the U.S. and U.K.
II. Kidney exchange  (and repugnant transactions)

Three videos have now been posted at this link (both seminars, and the question and answer period): 

Both lectures are about an hour; the first lecture begins with me being introduced, I start speaking at 3:35. The Q&A is about 20 minutes.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

UNOS produces a video to inform hospitals about kidney paired donation (kidney exchange)

Video module explains features and benefits of the OPTN kidney paired donation pilot program

More than half of the eligible kidney transplant hospitals currently participate in the OPTN KPD Pilot Program, but for those that don’t, a video is now available to provide more information.  The video module (8:45) shows how staff members at a transplant hospital decide to join the program. The video overview was created by UNOS staff in close consultation with KPD Work Group leadership. It describes the mission and goals of the program, outlines the benefits of the program for hospitals, and explains how the program increases patient access to transplants.
Contact the KPD Program Manager with questions at
- See more at:

"The module was created by UNOS Instructional Innovations with the goal to provide living kidney donor transplant hospitals, who are not yet participating in KPD, some information about the program. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

I talk to International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation

Normally when I talk to transplant surgeons I talk about kidney exchange, and sometimes I talk about repugnant transactions as they relate to compensating live donors. But this weekend I'll be speaking to surgeons interested in organs that can't be exchanged, like hearts. So I'll be speaking about deceased organ donation, and what economists are starting to understand about that...

Here's their press release about my talk