Saturday, August 31, 2013

Double blind reviewing

"Double blind reviewing" is the practice in some academic journals of not only concealing the reviewers' identities from the authors, but of also concealing the authors' identities from the reviewers. The idea is that papers should be evaluated "on their own merits," without information about the authors. The controversies that arise have to do with whether there is valuable information in knowing who the authors are.  For a number of years the American Economic Review tried to have double blind reviewing (that was somewhat undermined by the growing ease of finding papers on the internet), but they abandoned this practice a few years ago.

I was reminded of this by the story of J.K. Rowling's (of Harry Potter fame) venture into publishing a story under a pseudonym, later revealed...

‘Cuckoo’s Calling’ Reveals Long Odds for New Authors

"“The Cuckoo’s Calling” became the publishing sensation of the summer when word leaked that its first-time author, Robert Galbraith, was none other than J. K. Rowling, the mega-best-selling creator of Harry Potter.

"Mystery solved? Maybe not. It’s no surprise that “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” a detective story set in a London populated by supermodels and rock stars, shot to the top of best-seller lists once the identity of the author was revealed. But if the book is as good as critics are now saying it is, why didn’t it sell more copies before, especially since the rise of online publishing has supposedly made it easier than ever for first-time authors?"

Friday, August 30, 2013

Fading repugnance watch: Marijuana and same sex marriage

Two stories in yesterday's NY Times were about repugnant transactions that are in the process of becoming less repugnant:

U.S. Says It Won’t Sue to Undo State Marijuana Laws
"The Obama administration on Thursday said it would not sue to undo laws legalizing marijuana in 20 states, although it will monitor operations in those states to make sure they do not run afoul of several enforcement priorities."

I.R.S. to Recognize All Gay Marriages, Regardless of State
"All legally married same-sex couples will be recognized for federal tax purposes, regardless of whether the state where they live recognizes the marriage, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wagaroo update: designing a mechanism to identify responsible sources for pet dogs

In February, Christine Exley, a graduate student in economics at Stanford, introduced us to Wagaroo, a new market for pets, here. Since then, she has developed an interesting new mechanism to screen out puppy mills from her Owner Rehoming Program. Her Owner Rehoming Program is also serving as a substitute for animal shelters for some dogs.   As Wagaroo expands she and her colleagues hope this will help drive down the animal shelter population. (You can hear her in the last link below, a video...)  

She writes:

"Wagaroo makes it easy for people to find dogs from ethical sources.  We only post dogs from the shelters, rescues, responsible breeders, and families needing to rehome their dogs.  Dogs are adopted from the last group via our Owner Rehoming Program, which involves owners who need to find new loving homes for their dogs due to a variety of reasons, such as a death in the family, financial challenges, or having to move.  By using our Owner Rehoming Program, these owners keep their dogs until they find a new family for their dog – that is, they keep their dogs out of animal shelters.

"When we were developing our Owner Rehoming Program, we wanted to develop a system that keeps out puppy mills, places that cruelly mass-produce puppies in horrid conditions.   To do so, we thought of a mechanism that aligns incentives.  To illustrate, lets assume Alice wants to adopt a dog from Bob through our Owner Rehoming Program.   To finalize the adoption, Wagaroo asks Alice to pay a $100 adoption fee to Wagaroo, 50% of which is donated to a local animal shelter.  

"How does this keep out puppy mills?   First, Bob does not receive any money for his dog, so he clearly is not a puppy mill trying to make money by selling dogs.  Since Alice does not want a dog from a puppy mill, we can rely on her to not pay Bob.   Second, Bob wants to avoid problems that can arise when giving away dogs for free, such as them being used in dog fights or other cruel ways.   Because of this, we can rely on Bob making sure Alice pays the adoption fee to Wagaroo. This aligns incentives well, and the system is working wonderfully so far!

"If you would like to support our cause, please join in our crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo. You may also learn more about the economics behind Wagaroo in this video!"

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tourism pricing at the Jaipur observatory

Here's the price list...

And well worth it, to see a sculpture garden of assorted sundials of varying sophistication:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why it's hard to reimburse non-directed kidney donors for their travel costs

A letter to the editor of the American Journal of Transplantation:

To the Editor:

We are responding to the Melcher et al. [1] article, which recommends that the National Living Donor Assistance Center (NLDAC) pay for travel and lodging for nondirected donors (NDDs). We commend the work done by this group of stakeholders and believe the publishing of their findings is vital to improving the process of kidney paired donation. We do, however, need to clarify one point in their many important recommendations.

The article recommends “The National Living Donor Assistance Center should provide travel and lodging expenses to the NDD.” It is important to note that there are limits to the NLDAC program that were put in place by the U.S. Congress. NLDAC cannot pay for the travel and lodging expenses for all NDDs. The Organ Donation Recovery and Improvement Act (ODRIA) [2] established the legislative parameters for NLDAC. ODRIA states that individuals may not receive compensation from the grant if these expenses can reasonably be paid by a State or Federal program, an insurance company or the recipient of the organ. ODRIA requires means testing of the recipient's household income.

In practice, this means a recipient must be identified before an application can be filed with NLDAC. Because NDDs do not have a recipient identified before their evaluation trip to transplant center, NLDAC cannot reimburse those expenses. However, after a recipient is identified, a NLDAC application may then be filed. It should be noted that NLDAC received 42 applications between 2008 and 2012 for NDD, of which 32 were approved, providing NDDs with reimbursement of travel expenses through NLDAC.

If the recipient's household income is below the income threshold of 300% of the HHS Poverty Guidelines, NLDAC is allowed to reimburse those donor's expenses for the surgery and medical follow-up trips. If the recipient's income is above the income threshold, NLDAC may reimburse the donor's expenses if financial hardship is proven by the recipient. If the application is not approved, the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) [3] allows the recipient to reimburse the donor's expenses.

Lastly, we agree with the article's recommendation that payers should cover donor travel and lodging costs given that, by donating and traveling, the donor is enabling not only the recipient's transplant, but also those of other recipients.

This letter represents the views of the authors and does not necessarily represent the views of the grant funder.

A. O. Ojo1*, R. M. Merion2, D. H. Howard3 and P. H. Warren4
1Division of Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
2Division of Transplantation, Department of Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
3Department of Health Policy and Management, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
4National Living Donor Assistance Center, American Society of Transplant Surgeons, Arlington, Virginia
*Corresponding author: Akinlolu Ojo,
 The letter is found under the heading
Response to “Dynamic Challenges Inhibiting Optimal Adoption of Kidney Paired Donation: Findings of a Consensus Conference” by Melcher et al.
American Journal of Transplantation, Volume 13, Issue 8, page 2228, August 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

The multiple organ recipient who is also an organ donor...

...and a doctor, and a transplant activist.
Here's a remarkable story about Allison John, who needed so many organs that it was easiest to do the surgery if she also got a new heart, and so she became a heart donor at the same time as she became a heart transplant recipient: Daily Mirror Pride of Britain winner Allison John made history by becoming the first person in Britain to have a liver, heart, lung and kidney transplant 

Today she's healthy enough to have gone to medical school and become an organ donor activist...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Mentor of Market Designers

Here's an interview with Eduardo Azevedo about being my student: I just came across it recently. I'm proud of him too.  The Mentor of Market Designers

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Organ donation in Britain: will it follow Israel's lead?

The idea of encouraging people to register as organ donors by giving some priority to registered donors for receiving organs should they need them is still under discussion in Britain, motivated in part by the Israeli experience.  Here's a story from the Telegraph:
Registered organ donors could be given priority for transplants
"Patients who have agreed to donate organs could be given priority if they ever need a transplant, under proposals being considered by the NHS.
"In a report published today (THURS) NHS Blood and Transplant published a new plan to improve organ donations.
"The report floats one approach where patients already on the Organ Donor Register would be given higher priority for transplants should they need one.
"Professor James Neuberger, associate medical director at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “They do this in Israel and it has encouraged donation.
“It was first introduced in Singapore. While they don’t exclude those who don’t donate, it gives priority to those who are on the donor register.
“Whether it is appropriate for the UK is up for debate and discussion.”
"Any move to prioritise patients on the donor register would require a decision by ministers and a change in organ allocation rules."
The subject will be debated at the upcoming National Donation and Transplantation Congress, which is being held at the University of Warwick in early September.

Here's the announcement of the debate, with Jay Lavee, the Israeli heart transplant surgeon who has been at the heart of the change to priority in Israel speaking in favor (and presumably some of the others speaking against...)
The David Price Memorial Lecture / Debate: Should we have to give in order to receive? 
Chair:   James Neuberger
Speakers:  Jacob Lavee  – Israel
  Kevin Gunning -  Intensive Care Society
  Anthony Warrens – British Transplantation Society

  Penney Lewis – UK Donation Ethics Committee
Here is the UK Organ Donation and Transplantation site, and here are some links to the NHS Blood and Transplant Service documents on current proposals:

Taking Organ Transplantation to 2020
Here's the accompanying full report (pdf)

The table is from that report, summarizing the goals and current situation.

Here's an earlier post  of mine on this subject.

Here are other earlier posts following Jay Lavee's work

Friday, August 23, 2013

When assortative matching on age can interfere with matching

Here's an article addressed to the shidduchim crisis, that leaves some orthodox Jewish women without a husband. The article highlights a video made by young men who married happily after relaxing the customary insistence that the bride be younger than they.

"recent YouTube video produced by NASI, the North American Shidduch Initiative, suggests that young boys can and should marry older girls — even if the girl is four months his senior, or, God-forbid, one year and three months older (what a crisis!)."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bollywood support for organ-donor registration in India

A Bollywood film and its cast promote deceased organ donation: Ship of Theseus carries message about organ donation

Read more:
Follow us: @TheNationalUAE on Twitter | on Facebook

"The film Ship of Theseus, India’s latest art-house sensation, aims to make the audience leave the cinema quietly resolving to sign a pledge donating all their organs.

"In fact, the film’s cast, as well as the filmmaker Kiran Rao and her husband, the Bollywood actor Aamir Khan, attended a function in Mumbai last week to pledge their organs.

“We had discussed it before but after seeing Ship of Theseus, we realised that it was something we had to do – give the gift of life and use our bodies to change the life of not just one person but several,” said Rao.

"The central question of Ship of Theseus derives from a question posed by Plutarch: if you replace all the decayed planks of a ship, does it remain the original ship?"

HT: Seema Arora

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Signaling that you're not a business traveller by committing to a mixed strategy

Airlines like to price-discriminate against business travellers and others whose trips are non-discretionary. So, how to identify the leisure travellers?

Travel site offers substantial airfare discounts to those who agree to "Pick Two, Get One" and choose two destinations and let the site choose one of them.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Recruiting through social networks like LinkedIn

The Washington Post talks about how networking sites like LinkedIn are changing recruiting practices for the already employed: How LinkedIn has changed the way you might get your next job

"As LinkedIn has exploded — perhaps because it has exploded — there has been a major shift in the way employers find new workers. Gone are the days of “post and pray,” a recruiter’s adage for the practice of advertising a job opening and then idly hoping that good candidates swim up to the bait.

"Now the process of talent acquisition is something of a hunt.

“We’re really at a point now where all of your employees are vulnerable to being poached. Every single one,” said Josh Bersin, principal and founder of talent consulting firm Bersin by Deloitte.

"The change is happening rapidly: A 2013 study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 77 percent of employers are using social networks to recruit, a sharp increase from the 56 percent who reported doing so in 2011. And among the recruiters using social tools, 94 percent said they are using LinkedIn.

"LinkedIn has also shaken up the job candidate experience for workers of all sorts. Satisfied employees in high-demand fields are frequently getting unexpected nibbles to gauge their interest in new opportunities. 
"And while LinkedIn has become recruiters’ primary hub for chasing passive talent, it’s not the only place they’re looking: Facebook, Twitter and niche sites such as GitHub have also become channels for identifying prospective job candidates.

"About 20,000 clients are using LinkedIn’s talent solutions products. These tools have fast become the company’s financial backbone: Of the $364 million in revenue that LinkedIn reported in the second quarter, $205 million came from this division..."

But success brings congestion:

"Jennifer Boulanger, director of talent acquisition at Arlington-based Opower, said she’s already seeing this happen in certain high-demand job categories.

“Most engineers, they get probably 10 to 15 LinkedIn mails every day,” Boulanger said. “So we actually got away from doing a lot of LinkedIn for engineers.”

"Still, she’s using LinkedIn Recruiter to fill a host of other positions. In fact, she has nearly 11,000 candidates in her applicant tracking system that were identified through this platform..."

Here's a competitor for a niche that may be particularly difficult to search:

"Kathleen Smith of, a career site for people with government security clearances, said that hers is a niche in which many qualified candidates are not easily found on LinkedIn.

 “When you’re talking in the cleared community, people are not very comfortable sharing a lot of information,” Smith said, since they often work on classified projects and are accustomed to maintaining a certain level of privacy about themselves and their work.

"Even some of the basics can be difficult to discern, as workers are typically advised not to disclose in their profiles that they have a security clearance."

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ten kidney exchange transplants on World Kidney Day in Ahmedabad, India

Here's the link:

Clinical Studies
Ten kidney paired donation transplantation on World Kidney Day 2013: raising awareness and time to take action to increase donor pool
Posted online on August 12, 2013. (doi:10.3109/0886022X.2013.823997)
1Department of Nephrology and Clinical Transplantation,
2Department of Pathology, Laboratory Medicine, Transfusion Services and Immunohematology,
3Department of Urology and Transplantation, and
4Anesthesia and Critical Care, Institute of Kidney Diseases and Research Center, Dr. HL Trivedi Institute of Transplantation Sciences (IKDRC-ITS),
Address correspondence to
Dr. Vivek Kute
Department of Nephrology and Clinical Transplantation, Institute of Kidney Diseases & Research Centre, Dr. HL Trivedi Institute of Transplantation Sciences (IKDRC- ITS), Civil Hospital Campus,
Ahmedabad 380016, Gujarat
India. Tel.: +91 79 22687000; Fax: +91 79 2268 5454; E-mail: 


Background: Kidney paired donation (KPD) is feasible for any center that performs living related donor renal transplantation (LRDRTx). Lack of awareness, counseling and participation are important hurdles in KPD patients with incompatible donors. Materials and methods: This is an institutional review board approved study of 10 ESRD patients who consented to participate in the KPD transplantation at our center. All the surgeries were carried out on the same day at the same center on the occasion of World Kidney Day (WKD) (14 March 2013). All recipients had anatomic, functional and immunological similar donors. Results: KPD were performed to avoid blood group incompatibility (n = 8) or to avoid a positive crossmatch (n = 2). None of the patients experienced delayed graft function and surgical complications. At 3 month follow-up, median serum creatinine was 1 (range 0.6 to 1.25) mg/dL and two patients developed allograft biopsy-proven acute rejection and responded to antirejection therapy. Due to impact of our awareness activity, 20 more KPD patients are medically fit for transplantation and waiting for permission from the authorization committee before transplantation. Conclusion: This is a report of 10 simultaneous KPD transplantations in a single day in a single centre on WKD raising awareness of KPD. KPD is viable, legal and rapidly growing modality for facilitating LRDRTx for patients who are incompatible with their healthy, willing LRD.

Read More:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Farmers in India petition to be allowed to sell organs

I (would like to) assume that this story from India only concerns sale of live kidneys for transplantation, but it isn't completely clear to me, given the mention of suicides due to debt:

Allow us to sell our organs to repay our debts, farmers tell PM

"Unable to repay bank loans and to highlight their miserable plight, a group of farmers from Haryana have sought permission from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to allow them to sell their vital organs.

"The farmers' group who held a rally at Kurukshetra on Monday under the aegis of Bharat Kisan Union (Tikait), held placards displaying a rate list of their organs.

"Later, 33 farmers handed over a letter to the Kurukshetra Tehsildar to be forwarded to the Prime Minister, BKU's state unit chief Gurnam Singh said on Tuesday.

"We are left with no other option, but to sell our vital organs. Over 20,000 farmers have ended their lives across the country due to debt burden. At least, selling our organs would enable us to repay the debt and live for a few years more and feed our families," he said."

HT: Sangram Kadam

We'll be traveling in India in the coming days, so at least some of my blog posts will be from inventory...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Experimental Economics at the Stanford SITE workshop: Aug 23-25 2013

I will be in India, but it looks like I'll be missing a great conference.

Stanford Institute for Theoretical Economics
Summer 2013 Workshop

Segment 7:Experimental Economics
August 23, 24 and 25, 2013.
Organized by Lise Vesterlund, University of Pittsburgh and Lucas Coffman, The Ohio State University; John Beshears, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, and Charles Sprenger, Alvin Roth and Muriel Niederle, all Stanford University.
Friday, August 23
8:15 - 8:45 Breakfast
8:45 - 9:00 Welcome
9:00 - 10:00 Decisions Under Uncertainty and Ambiguity
Stochastic Choice and Hedging presented by Pietro Ortoleva, Columbia University
No Two Experiments are Identical presented by Yoram Halevy, University of British Columbia

10:00 - 10:30 Coffee

10:30 - 12:00 Foundations of Game Theory and Strategy
Epistemic Foundations for the Failure of Nash Equilibrium presented by P.J. Healy, The Ohio State University
A Generalized Winner's Curse: An Experimental Investigation of Complexity and Adverse Selectionpresented by Gary Charness, University of California, Santa Barbara
Endogenous Depth of Reasoning presented by Antonio Penta, University of Wisconsin, Madison and co-authored with Larbi Alaoui, Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Barcelona GSE
12:00 - 2:00 Lunchtime discussion

2:00 - 3:00 Communication and Influence (Lab)
Interpersonal Influence presented by Lucas Coffman, The Ohio State University and co-authored withPaul Niehaus, University of California, San Diego
Less Is More: Communication Costs and Team Performance presented by Zachary Grossman,University of California, Santa Barbara

3:00 - 3:30 Coffee

3:30 - 4:30 Shorter Session 1
Institutions Build Intuitions: Evolving Cultures of Cooperation and Defection in the Laboratorypresented by Alexander Peysakhovich, Harvard University
Intuitive Generosity and the Inability to Draw Inference from Decision Time presented by María P. Recalde, University of Pittsburgh
Backward Induction in the Finitely Repeated Prisoner's Dilemma: Experimental Evidence presented by Sevgi Yuksel, New York University
Rationality and Consistent Beliefs: Theory and Experimental Evidence presented by Terri Kneeland,University of British Columbia

4:30 - 6:00 Informal Exchange

6:00 Continued discussion and dissemination of technical knowledge during dinner
Saturday, August 24
8:30 - 9:00 Breakfast
9:00 - 10:00 Developments in Fairness
Social observation Increases Prosociality of Choices and Visual Attention presented by Stephanie W. Wang, University of Pittsburgh
The Value of Information and the Role of Fairness in Bargaining presented by Judd B. Kessler, The Wharton School
10:30 - 11:30 Communication and Influence (Field)
Can a Small Nudge Affect Job Choice? Experimental Evidence from Teach for America presented byClayton Featherstone, University of Pennsylvania
Fundraising Through Online Social Networks: a Field Experiment on Peer-to-Peer Solicitationpresented by Ragan Petrie, George Mason University
11:30 - 1:30 Lunchtime discussion

1:30 - 2:30 State Dependent Choice
Time and State Dependence in an Ss Decision Experiment presented by Ryan Oprea, University of British Columbia, and co-authored with Jacopo Magnani and Aspen Gorry, both University of California, Santa Cruz
Rational Inattention and State Dependent Stochastic Choice presented by Andrew Caplin, New York University

2:30 - 3:00 Coffee

3:00 - 4:00 Prosociality and Effort Provision
Why Do People Volunteer? An Experimental Analysis of Preferences for Time Donations presented byJonathan Meer, Texas A&M University
Revisiting Gift-Exchange: Theoretical Considerations and a Field Test presented by Rosario Macera Parra, Universidad Catolica de Chile, and co-authored with Constanca Esteves-Sorenson, Yale University School of Management
4:00 - 4:15 Short Break and Informal Exchange
4:15 - 5:15 Shorter Session 2
Symmetry in Cold-to-Hot and Hot-to-Cold Valuation Gaps presented by Geoffrey Fisher, California Institute of Technology and co-authored with Antonio Rangel, also California Institute of Technology
The Realization Effect: Risk-Taking After Realized Versus Paper Losses presented by Alex Imas,Carnegie Mellon University
Is Response Time Predictive of Choice? An Experimental Study of Threshold Strategies presented byIsabel Trevino, New York University and co-authored with Andrew Schotter, also New York University
Correlation Neglect in Belief Formation presented by Florian Zimmermann, University of Bonn and co-authored with Benjamin Enke, also University of Bonn

6:00 Continued discussion and dissemination of technical knowledge during dinner

Sunday, August 25
9:00- 9:30 Breakfast

9:30 - 10:30 Sustained Cooperation
Dissolution of Partnerships in Infinitely Repeated Games presented by Alistair J. Wilson, University of Pittsburgh
Long-Term Commitment and Cooperation presented by Frédéric Schneider, Zurich

10:30 - 11:00 Coffee

11:00 am - 12:00 Inequality and Group Behavior
Inequality and Relative Ability Beliefs presented by Jeffrey Butler, EINAUDI
Equilibrium Tax Rates and Income Redistribution: A Laboratory Study presented by Marina Agranov,California Institute of Technology, and co-authored with Thomas R. Palfrey, also California Institute of Technology

12:00 Lunchtime discussion

Friday, August 16, 2013

Law firm hiring bonuses for supreme court clerks

Above the Law has the story:
There hasn’t been much major good news on the associate compensation front over the past few years — since, say, January 2007. But recent weeks have brought pockets of minor good news for limited constituencies. Green shoots, anyone?
In Miami, Greenberg Traurig raised starting salariesby 16 percent, from $125,000 to $145,000. In New York, Sullivan & Cromwell and Skadden Arps started offering $300,000 signing bonuses to Supreme Court clerks.
And now $300K bonuses for SCOTUS clerks have spread, to other law firms in other cities. Consider this the new going rate for top-shelf talent….
Multiple clerks from the October Term 2012 class have received offers of $300,000 signing bonuses, from the following firms:
  • Gibson Dunn
  • Jones Day
  • Munger Tolles
  • Paul Weiss
  • Skadden Arps
  • Sullivan & Cromwell
And The Economist follows up: The curiously strong market for Supreme Court clerks

AMERICA’S chief justice earns $224,618 a year. The other eight Supreme Court judges pocket $214,969. Nice work if you can get it, but paltry compared with the sums law firms are offering to the judges’ clerks—lawyers in their mid-to-late twenties who take a year-long post—to secure their services.

Earlier this month two big firms, Skadden Arps and Sullivan & Cromwell, set a new record in the bidding war by offering signing bonuses of $300,000. Combined with the base salary for third-year “associates” (the rank at which they typically enter a firm) and a modest end-of-year bonus, clerks can now take home $500,000 in their first year of private employment.
Perhaps the main reason for the ongoing bidding war is the inflexibility of pay scales at the law firms. The industry has barely budged from an age-old practice in which those on the lower rungs of lawyerdom are paid strictly according to their years of experience. This rule does not apply to court clerks’ signing bonuses, so these are a means of buying in talent without breaking a professional taboo. It would of course be more sensible to scrap such “lockstep” pay scales entirely. Jones Day, a prominent Washington firm, has done so. But lawyers are creatures of habit, and few other firms have followed.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Clearing: the scramble for British university admissions begins today

Admissions offers in Britain are (often) contingent on exam results, and today the A-level exam results are publiished, and the process known as Clearing begins. The Telegraph has the story (and apps to guide students through the process).
Clearing 2013: How to play the system
If you don’t get the A-level grades you want on Thursday, don’t panic. Let Andrew Marszal and the Telegraph guide you through clearing and beyond

While this particular “due date” is certain – A-level results will be published tomorrow come rain or shine – the outcome is anything but.
Based on numbers from previous years, we know that by tomorrow morning around 350,000 students will be celebrating, having secured the grades they needed to meet their university offers.
We can even speculate that one or two of them will leap joyfully into the air, shamelessly flourishing their straight A* grades for local press photographers.
But for a significant proportion of would-be undergraduates, the end of the long wait only marks the beginning of university clearing.
Once the dust had settled last year, some 167,000 teenagers found themselves eligible for clearing – the process which matches students who don’t have the university offers they want with courses that still have vacancies.
With overall application numbers slightly up for this year’s courses, it’s likely that figure could be exceeded this week.

And even those who have gained or exceeded the required grades will want to keep an eye on clearing – there is still the option of switching to a more competitive course through the parallel “adjustment” process, which carries the advantage of not having to give up your existing offer while you shop around for a better course.

So that’s why, with hundreds of thousands of teenagers making potentially life-altering decisions in the space of just a few days or even hours after receiving their results, the Telegraph has put together a range of exclusive tools to help you negotiate your application. As the exclusive media partner of Ucas, all course vacancy listings will be available only with this newspaper in England and Wales, starting from the morning of A-level results day. There will be further listings published free with your newspaper on August 16, 17 and 29 and September 5.

But bear in mind that clearing places will come and go across the clearing period until September 30, as people turn down offers and universities fill places.

Here's a helpful graphic of whhere the vacant places are:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

College admissions as the cohort of high school grads starts to shrink

The NY Times had a story about admissions practices in a time of declining enrollments: College Enrollment Falls as Economy Recovers, that has been followed up by a story in Inside Higher Ed, The Hard (and Late) Sell, whose URL says more that its headline does:

"Colleges should "not knowingly recruit students who are enrolled, registered, have initiated deferred admission, or have declared their intent, or submitted contractual deposits to other institutions," says the Statement of Principles of Good Practice of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. (The statement does not have legal power, but is a respected ethics code for the admissions profession.)

"So more than a few admissions officers and high school counselors did a double-take when they read in The New York Times Friday that Loyola University in New Orleans this summer "made a flurry of calls to students who had been accepted but had decided to go elsewhere, and had even paid deposits to other colleges." Loyola is among a number of colleges that this year were seriously below their targets for a freshman class for the fall, and the Times cited that strategy (which would seem to directly violate the NACAC statement) as one being tried. And so counselors did what they generally do when they learn of violations of their code of conduct: they asked NACAC to investigate.

"Loyola says that its officials were misquoted by the Times (more on that later) and that it strictly abides by the NACAC guidelines. But it also turns out that some other colleges have been going after students who have made deposits and commitments elsewhere, in violation of the NACAC guidelines."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

More on suicide bombing as a repugnant transaction

I recently blogged about suicide bombing as a repugnant transaction, in the sense that while most of the world condemns it, there are communities or parts of communities that encourage and celebrate it. Now Tyler Cowen blogs about the movie "The Attack" (by a Lebanese director, but banned throughout the Arab world as portraying Israeli bombing victims too sympathetically) and points to this review in the Washington Post: ‘The Attack’: Lebanese director’s film about suicide bombing gets Israeli premiere

"Banned by Lebanon, ignored by Arab countries and praised by U.S. critics, the suicide-bomber drama “The Attack” finally got a splashy sold-out Middle East premiere — in Jerusalem.

"Many people settling into their seats at the recent Jerusalem Film Festival screening in the plush Cinematheque, which overlooks the Old City, had lived through the years when Palestinian suicide bombings roiled Israeli society, killing hundreds of people in crowded cafes, buses and markets.

"Now, as the theater grew dark, Israelis were asked to examine their country’s security equation through the eyes of Amin Jafaari, an award-winning Israeli surgeon of Palestinian background who is shocked to discover that his beautiful wife is a suicide bomber, responsible for a blast at a Tel Aviv cafe that claims 17 victims, including 11 children.

"At first, Jafaari is disbelieving and outraged. Eventually he heads to the Palestinian West Bank city of Nablus to find out how she could have done this.

"There, he finds his wife celebrated as a martyr in posters and handbills, and by hostile extremists who order him out of a mosque. Even his relatives are proud of her. His wife’s young co-conspirator struggles to explain how Palestinian civilian casualties in an Israeli army attack could motivate him to orchestrate such a heinous act.

Monday, August 12, 2013

More progress with long kidney exchange chains

Here's an article with some interesting background information about a recent long chain,and about the progress being made in kidney exchange, by  Leila Haghighat in the Philadelphia Inquirer: Kidney chains link patients and donors.

I blogged earlier about this chain, in June, here.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Facebook effect on deceased organ donor registration

The American Journal of Transplantation has some data on the effect of Facebook's promotion of deceased donor registration. Here's a (gated) link to the article:
A. M. Cameron, A. B. Massie, C. E. Alexander, B. Stewart, R. A. Montgomery, N. R. Benavides, G. D. Fleming, D. L. Segev

Abstract: Despite countless media campaigns, organ donation rates in the United States have remained static while need has risen dramatically. New efforts to increase organ donation through public education are necessary to address the waiting list of over 100,000 patients. On May 1, 2012, the online social network, Facebook, altered its platform to allow members to specify “Organ Donor” as part of their profile. Upon such choice, members were offered a link to their state registry to complete an official designation, and their “friends” in the network were made aware of the new status as a donor. Educational links regarding donation were offered to those considering the new organ donor status. On the first day of the Facebook organ donor initiative, there were 13,054 new online registrations, representing a 21.1-fold increase over the baseline average of 616 registrations. This first-day effect ranged from 6.9× (Michigan) to 108.9× (Georgia). Registration rates remained elevated in the following 12 days. During the same time period, no increase was seen in registrations from the DMV. Novel applications of social media may prove effective in increasing organ donation rates and likewise might be utilized in other refractory public health problems in which communication and education are essential.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Boston College and TUBITAK celebrate Utku Unver

From the B.C. Chronicle yesterday, announcing that Utku Ünver has won the Special Award in Science of the Turkish Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBITAK) (2013) (Tubitak's highest award for a Turkish scholar working abroad)

"Ünver, who joined Boston College in 2008, has been granted a Special Award in Science by the Turkish Scientific and Technological Research Council, which recognizes Turkish scientists who have significantly contributed to science by their work abroad. Ünver was the sole recipient of the award in the Social Sciences category, cited for his work on economic design, matching models and kidney exchange schemes, many of which have involved collaboration with colleague Professor Tayfun Sönmez and recent Nobel Prize recipient Alvin Roth."

Here's an earlier announcement: TÜBİTAK ödülleri açıklandı! (TUBITAK Awards Winners Announced)

Friday, August 9, 2013

An unusual law clerk hire

Not every clerk is hired without any experience other than law school. This year, one clerk, Shon Hopwood, will be showing up at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals after (not right after) a lengthy prison term for bank robbery (after which he went to law school at the University of Washington ).

Here's a blog post on it (note the date, for those of you who have been following the unravelling of the law clerk market this year. I presume that Mr Hopwood will return this Fall to his third year of law school so that he's been hired before the recently-abandoned "official" Fall dates). The URL is too nice to hide the link behind text:

AUGUST 07, 2013


Here's an August 26 story from the NY Times: Taking a Second Chance, and Running With It

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Equalizing transplant waiting times across regions: OrganJet helps its first patient

Sridhar Tayur at CMU, the founder of OrganJet emails "Thanks for your help and support...our first patient gets her kidney away from where she lives" and points me to this press release--OrganJet customer receives kidney transplant years faster due to smart multiple listing.

"Originally listed in the DC area about 18 months ago, where the median wait time is nearly 5 years -- wait times in nearby Maryland are not that much better -- the 41-year old wife and mother contacted OrganJet for advice and arranged her on-demand jet transportation options (in addition to available commercial choices) just a few months ago. 
"There is significant disparity in wait times across different geographic areas, ranging from over 5 years in areas like NJ, MA, Washington D.C. and CA, while it is half that (or less) in regions like Pittsburgh, PA, Portland, OR and Madison, Wisconsin," said Sridhar Tayur, Founder and CEO of OrganJet and a professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business. Every year, over 5000 patients die waiting for a kidney in some parts of the US while organs in other regions may go unused.  While the actual numbers of wasted organs is a subject of debate, it is generally recognized to be in the range of 500-2500 annually. "Our goal is to provide affordable options for patients on transplant lists in high wait time areas so that they can increase their access to organs. This improved matching also helps reduce organ waste," said Tayur."

See my earlier post on OrganJet.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Undocumented immigrants in need of transplants

Some people are in really difficult circumstances:
Hunger strikers seek transplants for undocumented immigrants
"Demanding access to organ transplant procedures for undocumented immigrants, a group of hunger strikers set up camp outside Northwestern Memorial Hospital on Sunday."

Here's the story as of yesterday:
Hunger Strike Continues For Undocumented Immigrants Needing Organ Transplants

 My understanding is that Northwestern and other transplant centers don't in fact take immigration status into account, but that undocumented immigrants may evaluate poorly on the ability to sustain the daily immunosuppressive drug treatments that follow transplantation. (See this earlier post on the consequences of medicare's 3 year payment limit on immunosuppresive drugs.)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Suicide bombing as a repugnant transaction

Often when I write about repugnant transactions I'm exploring why some people don't like something that other people want to do. But it can work the other way too: we should work to understand what some people like about activities that most people disapprove of.  This story yesterday in the Beirut Daily Star, about suicide bombing, caught my eye:

Lebanese suicide bomber’s family celebrates death of kin in Syria

"TRIPOLI, Lebanon: The family of a Lebanese suicide bomber who died in Syria received congratulations and distributed sweets for the killing of two of their members fighting against the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“The Syrian regime is an enemy,” the grandfather of Motasem and his brother Hasan Khaldoun al-Hasan told The Daily Star. “There are fatwas to kill members or supporters of this regime, which is an infidel regime.”

"The grand father, Mohammad Hajj Dib – better known as Abu Abdel-Nasser – dubbed his grandsons “martyrs.”

"Abu Moaz, the nom de guerre of Motasem al-Hasan, blew himself up in the attack on the Syrian army checkpoint near Qalaat al-Hosn or Crac des Chevaliers in Homs last week. Abu Othman, the nom de guerre of Motasem’s brother Hasan Khaldoun, was killed in a later assault on the post by rebels.
At a condolences ceremony at the family residence in Tripoli’s neighborhood of Mankoubeen over the weekend, the grandfather, was smiling as he greeted visitors and distributed sweets after iftar. Visitors congratulated the family – a traditional way of offering condolences to relatives of martyrs.

The news of the brothers’ deaths was announced over the weekend by Sheikh Mohammad Ibrahim a member of Lebanon’s Salafist Hizb Ut-Tahrir.

We would like to bring the Muslims in Lebanon and Tripoli the good news of the martyrdom of two college boys Abu Moaz and ... Abu Othman who [were part of an attack] on the Abu Zeid checkpoint near Crac des Chevaliers in Homs during a suicide mission,” Ibrahim said in a statement."

Monday, August 5, 2013

It's National Minority Organ Donor Awareness Week

Here's the relevant U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website: National Minority Donor Awareness Week, August 1-7

"Observed annually, National Minority Donor Awareness Week was created to increase awareness of the need for more organ, eye, and tissue donors, especially among minorities. Now in its 17th year, this special observance honors minorities who have been donors, and encourages others to register as donors and take better care of their health in order to reduce the number needing a transplant."

A related story: Minority Organ Donors in Dire Need in Illinois
""The essence of organ and tissue donations in the African-American and Hispanic communities is critical," said Jackie Lynch, Director of Community Affairs for Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network.
Gift of Hope is an agency that helps people in need of organ and tissue transplants. More than half of the state's waiting list are minorities, but they are the fewest registered donors, according to Lynch. He says 18 percent of the state’s population is African-American, but the demographic makes up 54 percent of people in need of organ donor transplants.
"There are so few African-American donors, yet so many waiting. They wait longer and in many cases they die waiting."

Here's a recent paper on consent rates: Crit Care Med. 2013 Feb;41(2):496-505.
Deceased organ donation consent rates among racial and ethnic minorities and older potential donors.
Goldberg DS, Halpern SD, Reese PP.
We used data provided by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network to analyze the 35,823 organ procurement organization-reported eligible deaths (potential brain-dead donors ≤ 70 yr of age) from January 1, 2008, to October 31, 2011.
Excluding cases where donation authorization was based on prior patient documentation (e.g., donor registry), consent was obtained on 21,601 (68.9%), not obtained on 8,727 (27.8%), and not requested on 1,080 (3.4%) eligible deaths. There were substantial differences in consent rates among racial/ethnic groups (77.0% in whites, 67.5% in Hispanics, 54.9% in blacks, and 48.1% in Asians) and organ procurement organizations (median [interquartile range]: 72.4% [67.5-87.3]). In generalized estimating equation models, with whites and patients ages 18-39 yr as the respective reference groups, consent for donation was less likely to be obtained among Hispanics (odds ratio 0.54; 95% confidence interval 0.44-0.65), blacks (odds ratio 0.35; 95% confidence interval 0.31-0.39), Asians (odds ratio 0.31; 95% confidence interval 0.25-0.37), and eligible donors ages 55-64 (odds ratio 0.72; 95% confidence interval 0.67-0.77), and ≥ 65 yr (odds ratio 0.58; 95% confidence interval 0.52-0.64).
In presenting the first published analyses of consent rates among all eligible deaths, this study confirms smaller and regional studies that showed significant differences in consent rates between whites and racial/ethnic minorities (blacks, Hispanics, and Asians). The study also identifies considerable variation in consent rates between age groups and between organ procurement organizations. Critical care physicians are usually the front-line providers for potential brain-dead donors and their next-of-kin, and these data highlight the need for further research to identify the causes of variation in consent rates and mechanisms to increase rates where appropriate."

Sunday, August 4, 2013

U.S. medical school enrollment is increasing faster than residency positions

...and if you draw the lines, you can see when we might crossover from importing new doctors to exporting them.  Here's an article in the NEJM on recent trends:

The Residency Mismatch, by John K. Iglehart

"After two decades (1980 to 2000) when the number of U.S. medical school graduates remained steady (about 16,000 annually), a burst of activity has led to the expansion of existing medical schools, the development of new ones, and rapid growth of colleges of osteopathy. In 2002, there were 125 U.S. medical schools; today, there are 141, and about one third of the recent growth in enrollment derives from new schools.
"... federal funding is a key factor limiting the number of GME positions, which, in contrast to medical school seats, has increased remarkably slowly — at an annual rate of 0.9% from 2001 through 2010.2 The major stumbling block over the past 15 years has been a payment cap that Congress imposed on Medicare's funding of advanced training in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Medicare is the primary supporter of GME programs..."

HT: Ran Shorrer

Saturday, August 3, 2013

19th World Transplant Games begin in Durban

People with transplants can resume active's the story.

"The opening of the World Transplant Games was marked with a ceremony featuring a mass choir performance of the official event song, “Our Hearts Are Beating”.
"The World Transplant Games are held every other year with cities around the world competing to hold the sporting event. The main qualification for athletes to compete is that they need have an organ transplant. "

HT: Ran Shorrer

Friday, August 2, 2013

Who volunteers for the volunteer army?

When I was young, the Viet Nam was was underway, and the way the American army got many soldiers was by conscription. But conscription ended in 1973, the Army has been an all volunteer force since then.

One reason it's interesting to look at who American soldiers are is because of the light it might shed on other debates, such as the one about whether living kidney donors should be compensated, and what would be the likely change in the pattern of donations should the law be changed to allow that.  One concern that arises is that, if kidneys could be bought and sold, the sellers would be the poorest of the poor, in desperation.

That isn't who end up in the American Army, it turns out. Here's a 2008 report from the Heritage Foundation that casts some light on the subject. It appears that being an American soldier is a good enough job that you have to have substantial human capital to be able to qualify.

Who Serves in the U.S. Military? The Demographics of Enlisted Troops and Officers
By Shanea Watkins, Ph.D. and James Sherk

"Based on an understanding of the limitations of any objective definition of quality, this report compares military volunteers to the civilian population on four demographic characteristics: household income, education level, racial and ethnic background, and regional origin. This report finds that:
  1. U.S. military service disproportionately attracts enlisted personnel and officers who do not come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Previous Heritage Foundation research demonstrated that the quality of enlisted troops has increased since the start of the Iraq war. This report demonstrates that the same is true of the officer corps.
  2. Members of the all-volunteer military are significantly more likely to come from high-income neighborhoods than from low-income neighborhoods. Only 11 percent of enlisted recruits in 2007 came from the poorest one-fifth (quintile) of neighborhoods, while 25 percent came from the wealthiest quintile. These trends are even more pronounced in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, in which 40 percent of enrollees come from the wealthiest neighborhoods-a number that has increased substantially over the past four years.
  3. American soldiers are more educated than their peers. A little more than 1 percent of enlisted personnel lack a high school degree, compared to 21 percent of men 18-24 years old, and 95 percent of officer accessions have at least a bachelor's degree.
  4. Contrary to conventional wisdom, minorities are not overrepresented in military service. Enlisted troops are somewhat more likely to be white or black than their non-military peers. Whites are proportionately represented in the officer corps, and blacks are overrepresented, but their rate of overrepresentation has declined each year from 2004 to 2007. New recruits are also disproportionately likely to come from the South, which is in line with the history of Southern military tradition.
The facts do not support the belief that many American soldiers volunteer because society offers them few other opportunities."

HT: Volokh conspirators

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Purple market design at Northwestern: Jeff Ely and Sandeep Baliga auction football tickets

Blogging would be easy if I got more emails like this one from eminent game theorists. Its subject line was "our foray into market design":

dear al,

sandeep baliga and i persuaded northwestern athletics to let us auction off their football tickets.  the auction starts tomorrow. you can see it here:

we put together a little video to explain how the auction works. (in simple terms its a uniform-price dutch auction).

we would love it if you could mention it on your blog.


(Any complaints from disgruntled Wildcats should be directed to  Jeffrey Ely and/or Sandeep Baliga. Or maybe you could comment on their blog Cheap Talk, one of the economics blogs that I follow.)