Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Funding for dissertations that combine economics and computer science

The SIGecom Doctoral Dissertation Award recognizes an outstanding dissertation in the field of economics and computer science. The award is conferred annually at the ACM Conference on Economics and Computation and includes a plaque, complimentary conference registration, and an honorarium of $1,500. A plaque may further be given to up to two runners-up. No award may be conferred if the nominations are judged not to meet the standards for the award.

To be eligible, a dissertation must be on a topic related to the field of economics and computer science and must have been defended successfully during the calendar year preceding the year of the award presentation.

The next SIGecom Doctoral Dissertation Award will be given for dissertations defended in 2017. Nominations are due by the March 31, 2018, and must be submitted by email with the subject "SIGecom Doctoral Dissertation Award" to the awards committee at sigecom-awards-diss@acm.org. A dissertation may be nominated simultaneously for both the SIGecom Doctoral Dissertation Award and the ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award.

Nominations may be made by any member of SIGecom, and will typically come from the dissertation supervisor. Self-nomination is not allowed. Nominations for the award must include the following, preferably in a single PDF file:

1. A two-page summary of the dissertation, written by the nominee, including bibliographic data and links to publicly accessible versions of published papers based primarily on the dissertation.
2. An English-language version of the dissertation.
3. An endorsement letter of no more than two pages by the nominator, arguing the merit of the dissertation, potential impact, and justification of the nomination. This document should also certify the dissertation defense date.
4. The names, email addresses, and affiliations of at least two additional endorsers.

The additional endorsement letters themselves should be emailed directly to sigecom-awards-diss@acm.org, by the same deadline. These endorsements should be no longer than 500 words, and should specify the relationship of the endorser to the nominee, contributions of the dissertation, and its potential impact on the field.

It is expected that a nominated candidate, if selected for the award, will attend the next ACM Conference on Economics and Computation to accept the award and give a presentation on the dissertation work. The cost of attending the conference is not covered by the award, but complimentary registration is provided.

·  Award Committee

  • Nicole Immorlica, Microsoft Research New England
  • Ariel Procaccia, Carnegie Mellow University
  • Aaron Roth, University of Pennsylvania

Monday, October 16, 2017

Kenneth Arrow Tribute

Here is a sequence of video memories of Ken Arrow, about three minutes each. (I'm at minute 57...)

And here's a news release with a picture and some links:
A Nobel moment in memory of the late Kenneth Arrow

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Black markets and violence: Chimeli and Soares on mahogany

Black markets and violence go together like lawlessness and silence...

 The Use of Violence in Illegal Markets: Evidence from Mahogany Trade in the Brazilian Amazon  By Ariaster B. Chimeli and Rodrigo R. Soares
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 2017, 9(4): 30–57 https://doi.org/10.1257/app.20160055 30

Here's the abstract:
"We provide evidence on the effect of market illegality on violence. Brazil was historically the main exporter of mahogany. Starting in the 1990s, trade was restricted and eventually prohibited. We build on previous evidence that mahogany trade persisted after prohibition and document relative increases in violence in areas with natural occurrence of mahogany. We show that as illegal activity receded in the late 2000s so did the relative increase in violence. We describe an experience of increase in violence following the transition of a market from legal to illegal and contribute to the evaluation of prohibition policies under limited enforcement."

And here are the two concluding paragraphs:
"Different markets are embedded in different institutional settings and the relationship between illegality and violence is likely to vary across contexts. For example, corruption and high monitoring costs may make it difficult to enforce the prohibition of narcotics, whereas the existence of low cost substitutes for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) may have contributed to the largely successful—although not perfect— worldwide ban on the substance. With these caveats in mind, our analysis provides
one piece of evidence pointing to a causal effect of market illegality, per se, on the incidence of systemic violence and exemplifies how enforcement capacity interferes in this relationship.

"Our results also serve as a cautionary tale for policymakers wishing to regulate markets associated with perceived negative externalities. Consider US Executive Order 12866 of 1993 stating that “each agency shall assess both the costs and the benefits of the intended regulation and, recognizing that some costs and benefits are difficult to quantify, propose, or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that the benefits of the intended regulation justify its costs.” Violence is an important social cost to be accounted for in the cost-benefit analysis of market control policies. In the absence of adequate enforcement capabilities, addressing unwanted externalities with overly restrictive regulations may end up exacerbating social losses."

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Definition of success? Short video trailers from Brazil

Here is a link to a 3 minute trailer from a forthcoming video in which various people (including me) were asked for definitions of success...

Voc├¬ vai ser bem-sucedido? Veja no maior document├írio brasileiro sobre prosperidade  (Are you going to be successful? See the largest Brazilian documentary on prosperity)

And here's 50 seconds, all in English (with subtitles in Portuguese), on scarcity.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Summary of the Israeli Medical Internship Match

Slava Bronfman, Avinatan Hassidim, Gideon Kalif, and Assaf Romm (2017), Matching practices for entry-labor markets – The Israeli Medical Internship Match, MiP Country Profile 25.”

Summary box

What is allocated?Medical internships.
Who are the participants?Graduates of medical schools.
Stated objectives of matching policyFairness among doctors, equal spread of talent across the country.
Who’s in charge?The Ministry of Health and a committee elected by the student body.
In place since2014
Available capacitySame as the number of doctors (≈500 local grads + ~200 foreign grads).
Timing of enrolmentMay of every year.
Information available to applicants prior to enrolment periodDescription and code of the mechanism, summary statistics of previous years.
Restrictions on preference expressionStudents must rank all hospitals.
Matching procedureVariant of competitive equilibrium with equal incomes (CEEI).
Priorities and quotasProportional to hospitals’ size, and extra for periphery.
Further special featureCouples are to the same hospital.
Bronfman, S., Alon, N., Hassidim, A., and Romm, A.,2015. Redesigning the Israeli Medical Internship Match. In Proceedings of the Sixteenth ACM Conference on Economics and Computation, 753-754.

 Bronfman, S., Hassidim, A., Afek, A., Romm, A., Shreberk, R., Hassidim, A. and Massler, A., 2015. Assigning Israeli medical graduates to internships. Israel journal of health policy research, 4(1).

Pictures from the celebration of Ken Arrow

The Celebration of Ken Arrow at Stanford was awesome, and unique.  Mostly we honor elder statesmen by a conference on their subject matter, and speakers talk about their own work and perhaps how it relates to the honoree. That isn't what happened last Monday, instead, distinguished panels spoke about Arrow's many seminal contributions in social choice, general equilibrium, health economics, finance and much more. There were also many short talks by individuals (see the program at the link above for a partial list), and I think it's fair to say that Ken was beloved in the profession and in his personal circles.

One memorable quote from Bob Solow (from memory). He told the story of a project he and Ken had worked on in the early days of the Rand Corporation, a project that had failed. He said something like this: "So you see, even Ken couldn't turn a failed project into a success. He was an economist just like you and me. Only smarter. Much smarter. Much much smarter."

Finance. William Sharpe.Hersh Sheffrin.Hugo SonnenscheinDarrell Duffie.Marcus Brunnermeier
GE.John Geanakoplos. Andreu Mas-Colell. Robert Lucas. Herakles Polemarchakis. Chris Shannon

Joe Stiglitz.Partha Dasgupta.Debra Satz.Richard Cottle.Matt Jackson

Social choice. Roger Myerson.Eric Maskin.Kotaro Suzumura.Amartya Sen.Salvador Barbera

Health:Vic Fuchs.Amy Finkelstein.Alan Garber.Angus Deaton

Bob Solow
11 Nobel prize winners

There was also some discussion of how many Nobel prizes have been awarded to students of Arrow. I thought of four: Harsanyi, Spence, Maskin, and Myerson. But it turns out that when Arrow visited U. Cambridge he served as the outside chair of Jim Mirrlees' dissertation committee. And Dan McFadden reported that a few hours of conversation with Arrow when he was a grad student had a decisive effect on his work.  And of course the clock is still running...

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Living kidney donation in Israel: Matnat Chaim in trouble with the law

The Israeli organization Matnat Chaim (gift of life) encourages and facilitates non-directed kidney donation, i.e. living donor kidney donation by donors who don't have a particular recipient in mind. It's generally agreed that they have saved hundreds of lives. In an earlier post I linked to stories reporting that they were under investigation for potential violations of some of Israel's laws involving the financial donations they received. (Israel, like almost everywhere, has laws against paying for a kidney...)

Now the plot has thickened, and some leaders of the organization have been arrested. They have also received strong expressions of support.  Here are two stories in English.

From The Times of Israel:
Head of transplant organization arrested over ‘organs for donations’ scheme
Charity suspected of bumping potential recipients to top of waiting list in exchange for funding, paying illegal compensation to donors 

"The organization is said to have encouraged relatives of those in need of transplants to make donations to the organization in order to shorten the waiting time to receive organs.

"Police noted that they are not treating individual donors or organ recipients as suspects. “If anything, they are victims who themselves have been working to save lives,” the statement said.

"Police said the investigation begun a number of months ago after a complaint was received against the organization from the Health Ministry. Evidence has since been collected from organ recipients, their families and other sources.

"A police spokesperson explained that the investigation was “particularly complex and sensitive” and officers have made an effort not to interrupt the continuing work of the organization “in order to allow its life saving services to continue regardless of the ongoing probe.”

and from Arutz Sheva (channel 7, Israel National News):
Rabbi Kanievsky supports head of NGO investigated by police
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky publicly visits head of the 'Matanat Chaim' NGO, under investigation for trading organ donations for money.

"Prominent haredi Torah sage and leading halakhic authority Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky visited the house of Rabbi Yeshayahu Haber, who heads the Matnat Chaim NGO, in a public show of support for the embattled organization. Police are currently investigating Matanat Chaim over suspicion that the NGO bumped patients to the top of its recipient list in exchange for donations.

"The visit is seen in the haredi world as signaling Rabbi Kanievsky's support for Haber and Matnat Chaim, which works to assist kidney donations in Israel. Earlier this month, hundreds of people who had received kidney transplants joined in a social media campaign defending Matnat Chaim, which one of them called "a sanctification of Gods name, people who do God's holy work on this earth".

"In early September, police had arrested Haber and other heads of Matnat Chaim over suspicions that members of the association advanced names on the organ transplant wait list in exchange for money that was transferred, in most cases, in the form of donations to the association.

"Police had opened the investigation several months ago following a series of complaints to the Ministry of Health. As part of the probe, police interviewed former donors to the NGO, and their suspicions were strengthened due to the fact that the majority of those donating money were unable to work and their financial situation was poor, leading authorities to conclude that these were not really donations, but in fact payment for being advanced on the waiting list for an organ transplant.

"Matnat Chaim is revered in the haredi world, and many public figures have slammed the investigation, including famed haredi author Chaim Walder, who called it a "witch hunt". Yisrael Hayom's haredi affairs writer Yehuda Shlesinger wrote last week that "the State of Israel should ask forgiveness from Rabbi Yeshayahu Haber, who saved the lives of 466 Israelis and who has been under house arrest for four days in one of the most delusional investigations ever."

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fairness versus efficiency in refugee resettlement

Here's a paper that grapples with a fairness/ efficiency tradeoff:

Towards a Fair Distribution Mechanism for Asylum
Philippe van Basshuysen
Games 2017, 8(4), 41; doi:10.3390/g8040041 Published: 25 September 2017

Abstract: It has been suggested that the distribution of refugees over host countries can be made more fair or efficient if policy makers take into account not only numbers of refugees to be distributed but also the goodness of the matches between refugees and their possible host countries. There are different ways to design distribution mechanisms that incorporate this practice, which opens up a space for normative considerations. In particular, if the mechanism takes countries’ or refugees’ preferences into account, there may be trade-offs between satisfying their preferences and the number of refugees distributed. This article argues that, in such cases, it is not a reasonable policy to satisfy preferences. Moreover, conditions are given which, if satisfied, prevent the trade-off from occurring. Finally, it is argued that countries should not express preferences over refugees, but rather that priorities for refugees should be imposed, and that fairness beats efficiency in the context of distributing asylum. The framework of matching theory is used to make the arguments precise, but the results are general and relevant for other distribution mechanisms such as the relocations currently in effect in the European Union.