Erling Skancke
Job Market Candidate

Stanford University
Department of Economics
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305

Curriculum Vitae

Market Design, Behavioral and Experimental Economics

Expected Graduation Date:
June, 2022

Thesis Committee:
Alvin Roth (Primary):

Douglas Bernheim:

Paul Milgrom:

Muriel Niederle:


Welfare and Strategic Externalities in Matching Markets with Interviews (Job Market Paper)
Recent debate in the medical literature has raised concerns about the pre-match interview process for residency and fellowship positions at hospitals. However, little is known about the economics of this decentralized process. In this paper, I build a game-theoretic model in which hospitals conduct costly interviews in order to learn their preferences over doctors. I show that increased interview activity by any hospital imposes an unambiguous negative welfare externality on all other hospitals. In equilibrium, both hospitals and doctors may be better off by a coordinated reduction in interview activity. The strategic externality is more subtle, and conditions are derived under which the game exhibits either strategic complementarities or substitutes. Moreover, an increase in market size may exacerbate the inefficiencies of the interview process, preventing agents from reaping the thick market benefits that would arise in the absence of the costly interviews. This effect increases participants' incentives to match outside of the centralized clearinghouse as markets become thicker, jeopardizing the long-term viability of the clearinghouse. The model also provides new insights into several market design interventions that have recently been proposed.

Explaining a Potential Interview Match for Graduate Medical Education (with I. Wapnir, I. Ashlagi, A.E. Roth, A. Vohra, and M.L. Melcher, Journal of Graduate Medical Education, 13.6 (2021): 764-767 )
Fellowship and residency candidates are applying to more programs to enhance their chances of securing interviews and matching favorably. While a candidate's application to a training program communicates some interest in the program, the relative amount of interest is obscured when candidates apply to large numbers of programs. As a result, we suspect that programs host large numbers of low-yield interviews. The number of interviews is steadily increasing and there is widespread agreement on the need to ease congestion in the pre-Match process. We propose an Interview Match (IM) to address the expanding number of interviews. An IM enables candidates and programs to express preferences privately through (tiered) rank-order lists. This may ease congestion in the "marketplace," reduce costs for candidates, and favor interviews that are more likely to lead to a match in the final Match. In this Perspective, we present two simplified scenarios to illustrate the potential to minimize low-yield interviews and some of the challenges to be considered when implementing an IM. We briefly discuss the advantages of an IM over other proposals.

On Ordinal Interview Assignment Mechanisms
In many labor markets firms and workers spend significant resources conducting interviews. In recent years, in the markets for residency and fellowship positions at hospitals in the US, many market participants have expressed discontent with the process through which interviews are determined. To address these concerns, several authors have proposed the use of a centralized mechanism for assigning interviews, usually based on ordinal information elicited about participants' preferences. However, little is known about the properties of such mechanisms. In this paper, I prove that no stable ordinal interview assignment mechanism is strategy-proof for either side of the market, unless agents on both sides of the market are restricted to conduct one interview each. I show that this result is closely related to the concept of overlap introduced by Lee and Schwarz (2017), a phenomenon which has exclusively been analyzed in the context where the number of firms/positions equals the number of workers. Through simulations, I show that the issue of overlap is much less pronounced for even slight imbalances in the market structure, implying that stable ordinal interview assignments are likely to ensure a high match rate as long as the market is not perfectly balanced.

A Decade of Signaling at the AEA, What have we learned? with M. Niederle and A. E. Roth
We study the use of the preference signalling mechanism provided by the American Economic Association. The use of the signals has grown steadily over the past decade, with a growing fraction of signals sent to non-academic jobs. However, some signals seemingly go to waste, as many students signal highly ranked institutions which likely don't pay attention to the signals they receive. We show that students who signal to institutions ranked higher than their PhD granting institutions are less likely to be hired by the institution to which they signaled. Institutions also vary by the number of signals they receive; most receive no more than two signals, while more than 18% of signals are sent to institutions that receive more than 20 signals. We also designed surveys whose responses were collected by the AEA: Among responding institutions, more than 20% indicate they interviewed a candidate who signaled them, and whom they otherwise wouldn't have interviewed.

Work in Progress

Experience and the Skin-in-the-Game Effect with D. Zuckerman
We design an experiment to test whether risk-taking behavior depends on whether subjects' past experience involved skin-in-the-game. Subjects experience outcomes of a lottery, either with or with skin-in-the-game, before they have to place a bet on the lottery. Unlike related field studies, our design allows us to control subjects' information, control for income effects, and elicit subjects' beliefs.

Green Grass or Sour Grapes? An Experiment on Chosen Preferences with B. D. Bernheim and G. Charness
We design an experiment to test how subjects' willingness to perform real effort tasks depend on their anticipated number of tasks. The design allows us to exclude explanations based on reference-point theories and inter-temporal complementarities in agents' utility functions.

Welfare Economics with Endogenous Preferences with B. D. Bernheim and L. Nagel