Economists Convene at NUI Galway for Major International Conference

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

NUI Galway's J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics is to host the 10th Annual Conference of the Association for Public Economic Theory (APET) from 17 to 20 June. Discussion topics will cover not only standard topics in public economics such as pensions, education and taxation but will also cover more esoteric issues from international stem cell donation to whether the good and the selfish should be taxed differently. Public Economic Theory is concerned with all aspects of the public sector and with the interaction between the public sector and the private sector. Economists working in this broad area are able to pose fundamental questions about how societies want to organise themselves in ways that are efficient and fair. They raise questions about where the limits should lie between market provision and pubic provision. "The annual meeting of APET is one of the most prestigious gathering of economic theorists in the world and the decision to award the 2009 Conference to NUI Galway in the face of stiff opposition is testimony to our initiative and outstanding record of scholarship in this area," said Dr Ashley Piggins one of the local organisers of the conference. "Previous APET conferences have been held in cities such as Paris, Beijing, and Seoul, and we are very excited at the opportunity to add Galway to this list", he added. Over 330 economists are expected to attend the event with over 90% of them coming from outside Ireland. Professors Ted Bergstrom, Rodney Garratt, and Damien Sheehan-Connor from the University of California at Santa Barbara have pioneered research on the economics of stem cells. For many illnesses such as leukaemia effective treatment includes transplanting blood-forming stem cells from a healthy donor whose immune system is compatible with that of the recipient. Finding a compatible stem cell donor outside of one's immediate family is very difficult. Professor Bergstrom says that the existence of registries sharing donors across national borders raises some interesting questions which he and his colleagues have tried to address. For example, how does the size and racial composition of the current registry compare with that of an optimal registry? What motivates people to join the registry? What financial and/or social incentives would be suitable for increasing registry size? Professor Bergstrom adds: "There are remarkable cross-country differences in the percentage of the population enrolled in national bone marrow registries. 10% and 7% of the population of eligible ages are enrolled in Israel and Germany respectively. The corresponding figure is less than 3% in the United States and is much lower again in countries such as Ireland and France. These facts raise fascinating questions about the 'exports and imports' of stem cell transfers across countries". "Presentation of this research in Galway is particularly interesting given the large amount of research being done on stem cells in the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway," said Brendan Kennelly another of the local organisers of the conference and economics lecturer at NUI Galway. "The authors' ability to think outside the box illustrates that economics has the potential to be a very exciting discipline which can help us to think about many of the most interesting and difficult problems that we face today". For further information on the 10th Annual Conference of the Association for Public Economic Theory (APET) please contact Brendan.kennelly@nuigalway.ie
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