Thursday, July 24, 2014

Celebrating the 70th Birthday of Marilda Sotomayor, July 25-30 at the University of Sao Paulo


Here's Marilda's cv, and the conference program:


HIGHLIGHTS:
Prof. Alvin E. Roth, Nobel Laureate 2012, will present the mini-course on Market Design 
Prof. Eric S. Maskin, Nobel Laureate 2007, will present a Plenary Lecture
Prof. Robert J. Aumann, Nobel Laureate 2005, will present a Plenary Lecture
Prof. John F. Nash Jr., Nobel Laureate 1994, will present a Plenary Lecture
Updated: July 4, 2014
Please note important changes:
Friday’s Regular Presentation Session (July, 25th) has been changed to Thursday (July, 31st). There were also changes in the Invited Sessions

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Update on school choice in Newark

The WSJ has the story:
Charters Catch On Fast in Newark: Parents Increasingly Look Outside District Schools By LESLIE BRODY

"In the debut of a system that lets families apply to charter schools and district schools at the same time, Newark got an eye-opening lesson: More than half of the applicants for kindergarten through eighth grade ranked charters as their first choice.

The application numbers, supplied by the state-operated district, show the popularity of charters at a time when Superintendent Cami Anderson's One Newark reorganization plan faces heated opposition from some residents.

One part of the complex plan aims to make it easier for children to sign up for schools outside their neighborhoods. Ms. Anderson said the application data show many families want greater choice.

"Universal enrollment is giving us a real sense of demand and allowing families of all learners, including those who struggle, more options," she said. Some critics, meanwhile, say the superintendent's push to consolidate, overhaul and restaff many district schools has created such uncertainty that it hastened a flight to charters.

Newark is among a handful of cities experimenting with universal enrollment systems, including Denver, New Orleans and Washington. Nina Rees, president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said she hoped other cities would follow suit."


Learning Curve
Recent student numbers for kindergarten through 12th grade in Newark
Newark district-school enrollment for fall 2014: 34,800 students
Newark charter-school enrollment for fall 2014: 12,200
Newark district-school enrollment for fall 2013: 35,567
Newark charter-school enrollment for fall 2013: 10,869
(Source: Newark Public Schools)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Should there be a residency match for medical physics?

The Journal of Medical Physics has published a debate on the resolution: Medical physics residents should be placed using a matching program

Stephen Sapareto, X. Ronald Zhu and Colin G. Orton, Moderator
Med. Phys. 41, 060601 (2014); http://dx.doi.org/10.1118/1.4871039

Arguing for the Proposition is Stephen Sapareto, Ph.D., arguing against the Proposition is X. Ronald Zhu, Ph.D.

Medical physicists get Board certification following a residency, but they are Ph.D.s and not M.D.'s, so they finish their degree only after writing a dissertation.

Briefly, the position in favor of a match is that graduates are facing a chaotic unraveled market that resembles the one for medical residents prior to the institution of a match.  And the position against a match rests on the observation that medical physicists don't all finish at the same time of year, and that the present rules on timing would be sufficient if only they could be enforced...

Here's an explanation of what medical physicists do, from the American Association of Physicists in Medicine.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Is same-sex dancing repugnant in Britain?

The Telegraph has the story:
Ballroom may soon be strictly off limits for same-sex pairs 
"Women have traditionally paired up at tea dances and ballroom events when there has been a shortage of male partners , but members of the British Dance Council may be about to ban the practice"

"Members of the British Dance Council (BDC) are to consider changing its rules to define a partnership as “one man and one lady”, for all amateur and professional competitions, unless specifically stated otherwise.

"Critics claim that the change in rules would mean same-sex couples may be “banned” from competing in all but a handful of specially designated competitions, despite facing no impediment to their participation until now. The dispute is understood to have stemmed from a rise in the number of successful same-sex couples on the ballroom dancing scene.

"Same-sex couples — both men and women — currently compete regularly across Britain, and have appeared on international versions of television show Strictly Come Dancing. Complaints have been raised arguing that, in the case of men, they have an advantage, due to their superior strength.

"Supporters of the proposal argue it is merely bringing ballroom dancing in line with other sports, where participants are already divided by gender. The proposals are to be debated on July 21, and critics claim that they could, if adopted, contravene equalities legislation."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Dynamic Games, Contracts, and Markets at Stanford SITE, July 21-23

STANFORD INSTITUTE FOR THEORETICAL ECONOMICS (SITE)
Session 3: Dynamic Games, Contracts, and Markets

Monday, July 21, 2014

8:30 am to 9:00 am
Check-in and Breakfast
9:00 am to 9:45 am
Dynamic Trading: Price Inertia, Front-Running and Relationship Banking
Presented by: Yuliy Sannikov, Princeton University
Co-Authors: Andy Skrzypacz, Stanford University
9:45 am to 10:00 am
Coffee Break
10:00 am to 10:45 am
Dynamic Ex Post Equilibrium, Welfare, and Optimal Trading Frequency in Double Auctions
Presented by: Songzi Du, Simon Fraser University; Haoxiang Zhu, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
10:45 am to 11:00 am
Coffee Break
11:00 am to 11:45 am
TBA
Presented by: Zhiguo He, University of Chicago
11:45 am to 1:30 pm
Lunchtime Discussion
1:30 pm to 2:15 pm
Labor Union Members Play an OLG Repeated Game
Presented by: Michihiro Kandori, University of Tokyo; Shinya Obayashi, Tohoku University
2:15 pm to 2:30 pm
Coffee Break
2:30 pm to 3:15 pm
Perfect Versus Imperfect Monitoring in Repeated Games
Presented by: Takuo Sugaya, Stanford University; Alexander Wolitzky, Stanford University
3:15 pm to 3:30 pm
Coffee Break
3:30 pm to 4:15 pm
Reputation Without Commitment
Presented by: Jonathan Weinstein, Northwestern University; Muhamet Yildiz, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
6:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Dinner

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

8:30 am to 9:00 am
Check-in and Breakfast
9:00 am to 9:45 am
The Value of a Reputation Under Imperfect Monitoring
Presented by: Martin Cripps, University College London; Eduardo Faingold, Yale University
9:45 am to 10:00 am
Coffee Break
10:00 am to 10:45 am
A Reputational Theory of Firm Dynamics
Presented by: Simon Board, University of California, Los Angeles; Moritz Meyer-ter-Vehn, University of California, Los Angeles
10:45 am to 11:00 am
Coffee Break
11:00 am to 11:45 am
Managerial Attention and Worker Engagement
Presented by: Marina Halac, Columbia Business School; Andrea Prat, Columbia University
11:45 am to 1:30 pm
Lunchtime Discussion
1:30 pm to 2:15 pm
Beeps
Presented by: Jeff Ely, Northwestern University
2:15 pm to 2:30 pm
Coffee Break
2:30 pm to 3:15 pm
Dynamic Delegation of Experimentation
Presented by: Yingni Guo, Northwestern University
3:15 pm to 3:30 pm
Coffee Break
3:30 pm to 4:15 pm
Optimal Design of Internal Disclosure
Presented by: Dmitry Orlov, Stanford University
6:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Dinner

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

8:30 am to 9:00 am
Check-in and Breakfast
9:00 am to 9:45 am
Auctions with Limited Commitment
Presented by: Konrad Mierendorff, University of Zurich
Co-Authors: Qingmin Liu, Columbia University; Xianwen Shi, University of Toronto
9:45 am to 10:00 am
Coffee Break
10:00 am to 10:45 am
Dynamic Eliciting Unobservable Information
Presented by: Nicolas Lambert, Stanford University
Co-Authors: Christopher Chambers, University of California, San Diego
10:45 am to 11:00 am
Coffee Break
11:00 am to 11:45 am
Making Collusion Hard: Asymmetric Information as a Counter-Corruption Measure
Presented by: Sylvain Chassang, Princeton University; Juan Ortner, Boston University
11:45 am to 1:30 pm
Lunchtime Discussion
1:30 pm to 2:15 pm
Efficient Firm Dynamics in a Frictional Labor Market
Presented by: Leo Kaas, University of Konstanz
Co-Authors: Philipp Kircher, University of Edinburgh
2:15 pm to 2:30 pm
Coffee Break
2:30 pm to 3:15 pm
Optimal Financial Regulation and the Concentration of Aggregate Risk
Presented by: Sebastian Di Tella, Stanford University
3:15 pm to 3:30 pm
Coffee Break
3:30 pm to 4:15 pm
Dynamic Markets for Lemons: Performance, Liquidity, and Policy Intervention
Presented by: Diego Moreno, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid; John Wooders, University of Technology Sydney

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"The organ detective:" article about anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes

An interesting long article by Ethan Watters in the July/August issue of the Pacific Standard: The Organ Detective: A Career Spent Uncovering a Hidden Global Market in Human Flesh discusses Nancy Scheper-Hughes, her work, and her position on where anthropology should try to position itself between science and activism.

"Scheper-Hughes’ investigation of the organ trade would be a test case for a new kind of anthropology. This would be the study not of an isolated, exotic culture, but of a globalized, interconnected black market—one that crossed classes, cultures, and borders, linking impoverished paid donors to the highest-status individuals and institutions in the modern world. For Scheper-Hughes, the project presented an opportunity to show how an anthropologist could have a meaningful, real-time, and forceful impact on an ongoing injustice.
...
"Since the mid-1990s, Scheper-Hughes has published some 50 articles and book chapters about the organ trade, and she is currently in the process of synthesizing that material into a book, tentatively titled A World Cut in Two. Over the years, she has had an outsize impact on the intellectual trends in her field, and her study of the organ trade is likely to be her last major statement on the meaning and value of the discipline to which she has devoted her life. Whether this body of work represents a triumph of anthropological research or a cautionary tale about scholarly vigilantism is already a hotly disputed question among her colleagues.
...
"In a 1995 debate with the anthropologist Roy D’Andrade in the pages of Current Anthropology, Scheper-Hughes argued for what she called a “militant anthropology,” in which practitioners would become traitors to their class and nation by joining political battles arm in arm with their subjects. The job of the anthropologist wasn’t simply to document the quotidian but to strip away appearances and reveal the hidden forces and ideologies that leave people dominated and oppressed. To do this, she suggested throwing off the traditional guise of the academic—in “the spirit of the Brazilian ‘carnavalesque’”—and joining the powerless in their fight against bourgeois institutions like hospitals and universities.

“The new cadre of ‘barefoot anthropologists’ that I envision,” she wrote, “must become alarmists and shock troopers—the producers of politically complicated and morally demanding texts and images capable of sinking through the layers of acceptance, complicity, and bad faith that allow the suffering and the deaths to continue.”
...
"“With the moral model, the truth ain’t exactly the thing that everyone strives for,” D’Andrade, who is now retired and living in Northern California, told me. “What you strive for is a denunciation of a real evil.” I asked him who prevailed in his public debate with Scheper-Hughes. “I believed that after the kerfuffle that people would get back to asking, ‘How do you know something is true or not?’ But in the end, the moral model swept the country and cultural anthropology stopped being anything that a self-respecting social scientist would call a science. The hegemony of the Scheper-Hughes position became total.”
...
"In the Philippines, kidney sellers she interviewed often pulled up their shirts, displaying their nephrectomy scars with evident pride. They spoke of the surgery as a sacrifice made for their families, and members of their community sometimes compared their abdominal incisions to the lance wounds Christ received on the cross. In Moldova, as she reported in a 2003 paper published in the Journal of Human Rights, people who had sold their kidneys were considered so morally and physically compromised that they were treated as social pariahs. “That son of a bitch left me an invalid,” one Moldovan paid donor said of his surgeon. Young Brazilian men who had been flown to South Africa to sell their kidneys described to Scheper-Hughes how the experience had gained them a pass into the world of tourism and medical marvels. One told her that his main regret was not having spent more time in the hospital. “There were clean sheets, hot showers, lots of food,” he recalled. As he recovered, he went down to the hospital courtyard and bought himself his first cappuccino. “It was like ambrosia,” he said. “I really felt like a big tourist.” In the end, some attested that they would make the deal again, and some regretted the decision.
...
"One convicted broker, Gadalya “Gaddy” Tauber, gave her lengthy interviews while serving out his sentence in Henrique Dias military prison in Recife, Brazil. Tauber, she learned, had facilitated a trafficking scheme that sent poor Brazilians to a private medical center in South Africa to supply kidneys for Israeli transplant tourists. He employed a number of “kidney hunters,” some of whom were young men who had already donated their kidneys, to find new recruits. In the end, it wasn’t difficult. Once the first young men came back from surgery centers in South Africa showing off their thick rolls of cash, Tauber and his associates had more willing donors than they needed. They began to drop the price they offered to donors from $10,000 to $6,000 and then to $3,000, Scheper-Hughes reported in a 2007 profile of Tauber.
...
“Transplant surgeons vie only with the Vatican and its cardinals with respect to their assumption of privilege, irrefutability and of a kind of ‘divine election’ that seems to place them above (or outside) the mundane laws that govern ordinary mortals,” she wrote in one article. “Like child-molesting priests among Catholic clergy, these outlaw surgeons are protected by the corporate transplant professionals hierarchy.”
...
"Although she rejects Rothman’s contention that she is hostile to doctors, Scheper-Hughes has long argued that it is her job to investigate an insulated surgical profession prone to self-glorification. She felt obligated to challenge doctors who talked of “saving lives”—as if the benefits to organ recipients trumped all other concerns. She saw bioethicists who argued for a regulated market in kidneys as “handmaidens of free-market medicine.” And she likewise criticized tame, “clinically applied” medical anthropologists who work closely with doctors to provide the spoonful of cultural knowledge that helps the Western medicine go down.

Back in 1990, she argued that the job of a medical anthropologist was to question, even ridicule, Western medicine.
...
"In the medical community, despite her record of antagonization, many transplant surgeons give Scheper-Hughes credit for bringing widespread abuses to light, and for revealing the voices of donors and middlemen in the transplant trade. “She’s pointed out that underground illegal markets really do exist,” says Arthur Matas, the director of the Renal Transplant Program at the University of Minnesota. While most transplant surgeons like to think that their community would never participate in such a black market, Matas says, Scheper-Hughes has made it clear that they do—“sometimes unknowingly and sometimes knowingly.”



Here are some previous posts in which I've written about Scheper-Hughes and her work on black markets in organs.

Friday, July 18, 2014

What is the effect of legalizing indoor prostitution?

In 2009 I wrote a blog post about the unusual situation in Rhode Island, in which a change in legislation had inadvertently made only outdoor prostitution illegal:


Where it's illegal for prostitutes to give massages

The complicated legal situation in Rhode Island makes indoor prostitution legal, but requires masseurs to be licensed, so prosecutors "brought charges against alleged brothels for performing unlicensed massages."
(That was a situation that Cheap Talk characterized as "happy endings but no beginnings.").

But now a serious paper has been written on the effect of this change (which was reversed later in 2009):

Decriminalizing Indoor Prostitution: Implications for Sexual Violence and Public Health

Scott CunninghamManisha Shah

NBER Working Paper No. 20281
Issued in July 2014
NBER Program(s):   HE      LS   LE 
Most governments in the world including the United States prohibit prostitution. Given these types of laws rarely change and are fairly uniform across regions, our knowledge about the impact of decriminalizing sex work is largely conjectural. We exploit the fact that a Rhode Island District Court judge unexpectedly decriminalized indoor prostitution in 2003 to provide the first causal estimates of the impact of decriminalization on the composition of the sex market, rape offenses, and sexually transmitted infection outcomes. Not surprisingly, we find that decriminalization increased the size of the indoor market. However, we also find that decriminalization caused both forcible rape offenses and gonorrhea incidence to decline for the overall population. Our synthetic control model finds 824 fewer reported rape offenses (31 percent decrease) and 1,035 fewer cases of female gonorrhea (39 percent decrease) from 2004 to 2009.

The story has been picked up:
Here's Vox,  Rhode Island accidentally decriminalized prostitution, and good things happened
That post concludes as follows
"Why is this research important?

"According to a 2013 estimate, prostitution is an industry that generates over $14 billion annually in the United States. That's despite the fact that it's almost universally illegal across the country, save for some regulated brothels in some parts of Nevada. (Recall that Rhode Island recriminalized sex work in 2009.)

"Despite the industry being huge and persistent, almost everything we know about decriminalizing prostitution is rooted in speculation, rather than good data.

"Prior research has been plagued by problems, like relying on small sample sizes that aren't necessarily representative of the industry. According to the authors, most of the studies that exist examine street prostitution, even though 85 percent of all sex-work activity is considered part of the indoor market.

"Sex work is a predictably fraught policy issue, because it gets entangled in matters of morality. But this study adds to a body of research that suggests criminalizing prostitution causes higher rates of victimization and unsafe practices."
******

And the Washington Post weighs in here, with a wider discussion of prostitution and its repugnance,
**********

For those of you who don't know Scott Cunningham, he's a serious student of the dark side of the economy...see a previous post on his work here.