Friday, July 1, 2016

Who finds sales of genetically modified food repugnant? (Hint: they are disgusted)

Here's a paper on a source of firm opposition to genetically modified food:

Sydney E. Scott, Yoel Inbar, and Paul Rozin
Evidence for Absolute Moral Opposition to Genetically Modified Food in the United States
Perspectives on Psychological Science May 2016 11: 315-324


Public opposition to genetic modification (GM) technology in the food domain is widespread (Frewer et al., 2013). In a survey of U.S. residents representative of the population on gender, age, and income, 64% opposed GM, and 71% of GM opponents (45% of the entire sample) were “absolutely” opposed—that is, they agreed that GM should be prohibited no matter the risks and benefits. “Absolutist” opponents were more disgust sensitive in general and more disgusted by the consumption of genetically modified food than were non-absolutist opponents or supporters. Furthermore, disgust predicted support for legal restrictions on genetically modified foods, even after controlling for explicit risk–benefit assessments. This research suggests that many opponents are evidence insensitive and will not be influenced by arguments about risks and benefits.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A matching market for polygamy:

Here is a (combinatorial?) site for plural marriage for Muslims:

“then marry women of your choice, two or three, or four but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly, then only one”
- Quran 4:3

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Repugnance and the social acceptance of kidney exchange (in French)

Here's an article, en français, that considers repugnance as central to the design (and public acceptance) of kidney exchange:

Brisset Nicolas, « Un marché sans marchandise ? Répugnance et matching market », Revue d'économie politique 2/2016 (Vol. 126) , p. 317-345 

Here is its table of contents. (Google Translate is helpful but far from perfect in reading the article for those of us who are linguistically impaired...)

Plan de l'article

1. Introduction
2. Roth et la répugnance : le cas des organes
2.1. La solution marchande au manque d’organes
2.2. Le rejet de la solution marchande et la solution de Roth
3. Les critiques de la solution marchande
3.1. Motivation et effet d’éviction
3.2. Commerce de détresse et liberté du donneur
4. Donner corps à la répugnance
4.1. Conventions, marquage et incitation : du marchand et du non marchand
4.2. Don-contre-don et limite de la solution marchande
5. Conclusion

Here's more info on the author: Nicolas Brisset.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Matching markets--a short instructional video from the Core Project

Here's a short (4 minute) teaching video put together by the CORE Project ("Teaching Economics as if the last three decades had happened") from a much longer videotaped discussion on market design, matching markets, kidney exchange and repugnant transactions.

Here's a link to a CORE class that uses this video:

Introducing Unit 20: Innovation, information and the networked economy

Monday, June 27, 2016

Volatility in the political marketplace-Brexit

Will the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland break up, following the 52% to 48% vote for the UK to leave the European Union? (Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU...).

Ken Rogoff has a characteristically well-written article (Britain’s Democratic Failure) arguing that such momentous decisions should be taken by super-majorities, not by a simple majority.

"The real lunacy of the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union was not that British leaders dared to ask their populace to weigh the benefits of membership against the immigration pressures it presents. Rather, it was the absurdly low bar for exit, requiring only a simple majority. Given voter turnout of 70%, this meant that the leave campaign won with only 36% of eligible voters backing it.
This isn’t democracy; it is Russian roulette for republics. A decision of enormous consequence – far greater even than amending a country’s constitution (of course, the United Kingdom lacks a written one) – has been made without any appropriate checks and balances."

Scotland, of course, has voted in the past to remain part of the UK--might it vote differently in the future? By a similarly narrow margin?  

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Airbnb and racial discrimination by hosts

The NY Times follows the story: Airbnb Vows to Fight Racism, but Its Users Can’t Sue to Prompt Fairness

"SAN FRANCISCO — Brian Chesky, chief executive of Airbnb, made a vow this month to root out bigotry from his business.
His online room-sharing company has recently been grappling with claims of discrimination, with several Airbnb users sharing stories on social media about how they were supposedly denied a booking because of their race. The issue came into the open in December, when a working paper by Harvard University researchers found it was harder for guests with African-American-sounding names to rent rooms through the site.
“This is a huge issue for us,” Mr. Chesky said at a company event in San Francisco in early June. “We will be revisiting the design of our site from end to end to see how we can create a more inclusive platform.”
But even as Mr. Chesky promised to stamp out racism from Airbnb, the company’s class-action litigation policy makes it tough — if not impossible — for customers to push the start-up to make any substantive changes on the issue. Airbnb requires that people agree to waive their right to sue, or to join in any class-action lawsuit or class-action arbitration, to use the service.
That clause, known as a class-action waiver, crops up whenever someone logs into Airbnb’s site. In March, the company updated its terms of service for new users, partly tohighlight that clause. Last month, Airbnb users were unable to log in and use their accounts until they agreed to the updated terms, including the class-action waiver language.
"For Airbnb, an effective response to discrimination claims is needed to blunt any fallout on its business. The company, valued at about $25 billion, has hosts in more than 34,000 cities and 191 countries and is positioning itself as an alternative to hotels. Airbnb recently raised $1 billion in debt to help finance its growth, according to a person familiar with the deal who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the transaction is not public. The credit facility wasreported earlier by Bloomberg.
Airbnb’s expansion depends partly on whether people of different nationalities and ethnicities feel welcomed to the platform in the same nondiscriminatory way that they are welcomed at international hotel chains. Two rival room-sharing services, Innclusive and Noirbnb, are now marketing themselves as services that provide inclusive and safe short-term rentals for people of any race or ethnicity.
Ms. Murphy, the Airbnb adviser, said the company recognized that eliminating discrimination was in its best interests. She said Airbnb’s relative youth — the company was founded in 2008 — meant it could deal with the issue in a more agile way than companies with entrenched cultures that may have needed the pressure of litigation to do the right thing.
“Airbnb is part of a new area of commerce, and the conditions for transactions are still developing,” she said. “That’s why it’s important to get it right.”

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Repugnance watch: Nude photos as collateral for loans

The Guardian has the story: China's 'naked loans' force female students to bare all in return for more cash

"Shady internet lenders in China are reportedly coercing female college students to provide nude pictures of themselves as collateral – a loan-for-porn scheme that has prompted anger on the country’s internet.

Under the arrangement reported by state media this week, some college students have agreed to send photos of themselves naked, holding their identification cards, to potential lenders. In exchange, they became eligible for higher loan amounts – two to five times the normal sum, the state-run Beijing Youth Daily reported.

Lenders tell the students they will publish the photos online if the loans are not repaid on time, often at usurious interest rates.

According to state media, the loan scheme is taking place on JD Capital’s Jiedaibao website. Jiedaibao is a platform where individuals - often friends and acquaintances – can lend or borrow money, striking their own arrangements."