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The dynamics of law clerk matching: An experimental and computational investigation of proposals for reform of the market

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  • Haruvy, Ernan
  • Roth, Alvin E.
  • Unver, M. Utku

Abstract

In September of 1998, the Judicial Conference of the United States abandoned as unsuccessful the attempt—the sixth since 1978—to regulate the dates at which law students are hired as clerks by Federal appellate judges. The market promptly resumed the unraveling of appointment dates that had been temporarily slowed by these efforts. In the academic year 1999-2000 many judges hired clerks in the fall of the second year of law school, almost two years before employment would begin, and before hardly any information about candidates other than first year grades was available. Hiring dates moved still earlier in the Fall of 2000 and 2001. The present paper explores proposed reforms of the market, experimentally in the laboratory, and computationally using genetic algorithms. Our results suggest that some of the special features of the judge/law-clerk market—in particular the feeling among many students and judges that students must accept offers when they are made--present obstacles to the success of the proposed reforms, including the latest reform proposed by the judges, in March 2002, which is a one year moratorium on clerkship hiring. Unlike many markets in which the inability to make binding contracts contributes to market failure, in the law clerk market it is the ease with which binding contracts are forged that harms efficiency.
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  • Haruvy, Ernan & Roth, Alvin E. & Unver, M. Utku, 2006. "The dynamics of law clerk matching: An experimental and computational investigation of proposals for reform of the market," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 457-486, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:dyncon:v:30:y:2006:i:3:p:457-486
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    1. Muriel Niederle & Alvin E. Roth, 2004. "Market Culture: How Norms Governing Exploding Offers Affect Market Performance," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000018, UCLA Department of Economics.
    2. Roth, Alvin E. & Sonmez, Tayfun & Utku Unver, M., 2005. "Pairwise kidney exchange," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 125(2), pages 151-188, December.
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    4. Erev, Ido & Roth, Alvin E, 1998. "Predicting How People Play Games: Reinforcement Learning in Experimental Games with Unique, Mixed Strategy Equilibria," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 848-881, September.
    5. John H. Miller, 1998. "Active Nonlinear Tests (ANTs) of Complex Simulation Models," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(6), pages 820-830, June.
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    11. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Tayfun Sönmez, 2003. "School Choice: A Mechanism Design Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 729-747, June.
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    13. Alvin E. Roth, 2002. "The Economist as Engineer: Game Theory, Experimentation, and Computation as Tools for Design Economics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1341-1378, July.
    14. Duffy, John, 2001. "Learning to speculate: Experiments with artificial and real agents," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 25(3-4), pages 295-319, March.
    15. Pingle, Mark & Tesfatsion, Leigh, 2001. "Non-Employment Benefits and the Evolution of Worker-Employer Cooperation: Experiments with Real and Computational Agents," ISU General Staff Papers 200106010700001053, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
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    20. M. Utku Ünver, 2005. "On the survival of some unstable two-sided matching mechanisms," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 33(2), pages 239-254, June.
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    22. Muriel Niederle & Alvin E. Roth, 2001. "Unraveling Reduces the Scope of an Entry Level Labor Market: Gastroenterology With and Without a Centralized Match," NBER Working Papers 8616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. Holland, John H & Miller, John H, 1991. "Artificial Adaptive Agents in Economic Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 365-371, May.
    24. Roth, Alvin E & Xing, Xiaolin, 1997. "Turnaround Time and Bottlenecks in Market Clearing: Decentralized Matching in the Market for Clinical Psychologists," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 284-329, April.
    25. Bullard, James & Duffy, John, 1998. "A model of learning and emulation with artificial adaptive agents," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 179-207, February.
    26. Yan Chen & Tayfun Sönmez, 2002. "Improving Efficiency of On-Campus Housing: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1669-1686, December.
    27. Arifovic, Jasmina, 1996. "The Behavior of the Exchange Rate in the Genetic Algorithm and Experimental Economies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 510-541, June.
    28. Hao Li & Wing Suen, 2000. "Risk Sharing, Sorting, and Early Contracting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 1058-1087, October.
    29. John H. Kagel & Alvin E. Roth, 2000. "The Dynamics of Reorganization in Matching Markets: A Laboratory Experiment Motivated by a Natural Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(1), pages 201-235.
    30. Roth, Alvin E, 1991. "A Natural Experiment in the Organization of Entry-Level Labor Markets: Regional Markets for New Physicians and Surgeons in the United Kingdom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 415-440, June.
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    34. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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