Friday, November 28, 2014

Bride price and the education of brides

Here's a new paper that casts bride price in a somewhat different light, with data from Indonesia and Zambia suggesting that girls who grow up in communities with bride price receive more education than those who grow up in similar communities that don't have bride price:

Bride Price and the Returns to Education, by Nava Ashraf, Natalie Bau, Nathan Nunn, and  Alessandra Voena.  November 16, 2014

Traditional cultural practices can play an important role in development, but can also inspire condemnation. The custom of bride price, prevalent throughout sub-Saharan Africa and in parts of Asia as a payment of the groom to the family of the bride, is one example. In this paper, we show a surprising economic consequence of this practice. We revisit one of the best-studied historical development projects, the INPRES school construction program in Indonesia, and show that previously found null results on female enrollment mask heterogeneity by bride price tradition. Ethnic groups that traditionally engage in bride price payments at marriage increased female enrollment in response to the program. Within these ethnic groups, higher female education at marriage is associated with a higher bride price payment received, providing a greater incentive for parents to invest in girls' education and take advantage of the increased supply of schools. For those girls belonging to ethnic groups that do not practice bride price, we see no increase in education following school construction. We replicate these same findings in Zambia, where we exploit a similar school expansion program that took place in the early 2000s. While there may be significant downsides to a bride price tradition, our results suggest that any change to this cultural custom should likely be considered alongside additional policies to promote female education.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Job market for new Ph.d. economists

A recent NBER working paper discusses the job market for economists:

Brooke Helppie McFall
Marta Murray-Close
Robert J. Willis
Uniko Chen
Working Paper 20654
November 2014

This paper describes the job market experiences of new PhD economists, 2007-10. Using information from PhD programs' job candidate websites and original surveys, the authors present information about job candidates' characteristics, preferences and expectations; how job candidates fared at each stage of the market; and predictors of outcomes at each stage. Some information presented in this paper updates findings of prior studies. However, design features of the data used in this paper may result in more generalizable findings. This paper is unique in comparing pre-market expectations and preferences with post-market outcomes on the new PhD job market. It shows that outcomes tend to align with pre-market preferences, and candidates' expectations are somewhat predictive of their outcomes. Several analyses also shed light on sub-group differences.

some interesting paragraphs:

"During the job-market seasons covered by this study, job candidates submitted 107 applications, completed 17 interviews and 6 fly-outs, and received 3 job offers on average. Our findings show a dramatic increase in applications compared to List (2000), who found the average job seeker in his convenience sample had scheduled just seven interviews prior to the AEA meetings in 1997.xvii It is likely that the decreased cost of finding openings and submitting applications associated with of the growth of internet job listings and web-based applications have changed norms since the late 1990s. "(p9)

"Positions in business and industry tend to be the highest paid, at $110,100 on average, while postdoctoral fellowships, the lowest-paid category, average just $57,500. The average salary for a four-year college position is $72,400, while the average new assistant professor’s salary at a university is $96,500 per year. " (p16)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Jacob Lavee on preventing transplant tourism, in the birthplace of transplantation

Jacob Lavee, about whom I've written numerous posts, was just in Boston as the 8th Annual Joseph E. Murray Visiting Professor in Transplant Surgery, to speak about "Preventing transplant tourism: A personal voyage which shaped the Organ Transplant Law in Israel."

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A new market for blog posts?

Kim Krawiec is on top of the taboo trades game, and has some new ones to suggest: I particularly like the idea that if you have some fact that requires a citation, maybe we could arrange that...

Selling The Starred Footnote

I’m late to the game in blogging about this, but I just found out about it on Friday at a conference on the Ethical Limits of Markets hosted by the Institute For The Study of Markets and Ethics at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business (about which I’ll have more to say later).  Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski are selling acknowledgements in the preface of their book Markets without Limits, which will be published by Routledge Press, most likely in late 2015 or early 2016.
The book answers the question “Are there some things which you permissibly may possess, use, and give away, but which are wrong to buy and sell?” in the negative, in contrast to the numerous books already written on the topic which take the contrary position.  Brennan and Jaworski are selling three tiers of acknowledgements: Silvermint Tier, Platinum Tier, and Gold Tier (The Silvermint Tier is so named because philosophy and women’s studies professorDaniel Silvermint is paying to have the highest tier named after him.)
Wish I had thought of that!  But no reason I can’t adopt it going forward.  In addition, I’ve decided to sell links to and mentions of your work in my blog posts and tweets.  I’m still working out the exact fee schedule, but will charge extra for highly positive mentions and even more for highly negative mentions (as controversy is always an attention getter). Finally, if those pesky law review editors won’t stop bothering you for support that you can’t find, just let me know and I’ll sell you a blog post setting out the needed statements, to which you can then cite. 
We often complain that student editors demand support for obviously correct statements of common knowledge – indeed, it is sometimes the case that the proposition is so widely known and accepted that it is difficult to find discussion of the point in print.  For example, you may want to reference the uncontroversial view that “professors of market regulation are considered smarter and more interesting than professors of constitutional law,” yet struggle to find something in print to that effect (in contrast to the faculty lounge and hallway conversations in which this assertion is frequently found). Problem solved!  Just let me know the statements for which you need a citation and I’ll post them here for a fee.  The profit possibilities on this one are nearly endless. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Stanford Engineering Hero Lecture: Ken Arrow on his intellectual history and the history of Operations Research (video)

I've had occasion to think about Operations Research recently, and it's relationships with Economics.  Here's Ken Arrow recalling some early history.

Ken speaks about his intellectual history, and the history of Operations Research as a field and at Stanford. The question and answers at the end are a lot of fun too.

Ken's talk begins at around 7:30 of the video, after an introduction.
The occasion is the March 4, 2014 celebration of Ken as an Engineering Hero. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

on my reading list (but not yet read)--recent papers on school choice, resident matching, and kidney exchange

Ulrich Kamecke 

Humboldt University of Berlin - Faculty of Economics

September 29, 2014

CESifo Working Paper Series No. 4969 


We model centralized school matching as a second stage of a simple Tiebout-model and show that the two most discussed mechanisms, the deferred acceptance and the Boston algorithm, both produce inefficient outcomes and that the Boston mechanism is more efficient than deferred acceptance. This advantage vanishes if the participants get to know their priorities before they submit their preferences. Moreover, the mechanism creates artificial social segregation at the cost of the disadvantaged if the school priorities are based on ex ante known (social) differences of the applicants.

The History and Rationale of the American Urological Association Residency Matching Program

  • Steven J. Weissbart
  • Jeffrey A. Stock

  • A new perspective on Kesten's school choice with consent idea 

    Abstract We revisit the school choice problem with consent proposed by Kesten [12], which seeks to improve the efficiency of the student-optimal deferred acceptance algorithm (DA) by obtaining students' consent to give up their priorities. We observe that for students to consent, we should use their consent only when their assignments are Pareto unimprovable. Inspired by this perspective, we propose a new algorithm which iteratively reruns DA after removing students who have been matched with underdemanded schools, together with their assignments. While this algorithm is outcome equivalent to Kesten's EADAM, it is more accessible to practitioners due to its computational simplicity and transparency on consenting incentives. We also adapt this algorithm for school choice problems with weak priorities to simplify the stable improvement cycles algorithm proposed by Erdil and Ergin [8].

    Econometric Institute, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands,

    Institute of Health Policy and Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands,

    Econometric Institute, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands
    Abstract Barter exchange markets are markets in which agents seek to directly trade their goods with each other. Exchanges occur in cycles or in chains in which each agent gives a good to the next agent. Kidney exchange is an important type of barter exchange market that allows incompatible patient–donor pairs to exchange kidneys so the involved patients can receive a transplant. The clearing problem is to find an allocation of donors to patients that is optimal with respect to multiple criteria. To achieve the best possible score on all criteria, long cycles and chains are often needed, particularly when there are many hard-to-match patients. In this paper we show why this may pose difficulties for existing approaches to the optimization of kidney exchanges. We then present a generic iterative branch-and-price algorithm that can deal effectively with multiple criteria, and we show how the pricing problem may be solved in polynomial time for a general class of criteria. Our algorithm is effective even for large, realistic patient–donor pools. Our approach and its effects are demonstrated by using simulations with kidney exchange data from the Netherlands and the United States.

    Saturday, November 22, 2014

    Mini course in market design: video of the short course (4 lectures) I gave in Brazil

    Here is the link to lecture 1 of 4, with links to the other three lectures as well.

    IWGTS 2014 - Mini-course: Market Design

    These lectures were delivered as part of the  Conference on game theory in honor of Marilda Sotomayor: July 2014.