Muriel Niederle


Department of Economics
Stanford University




This is my Experimental Economics and Market Design page

Check out my Experimental and Behavioral Economics blog

Address: Department of Economics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6072.
Phone: (650) 723-7359, Fax: (650) 725-5702, email: niederle at

Here’s a picture of how I look in a suit….

Here’s a picture where I am apparently unrecognizable

Here’s a picture with my famous advisor


For Students on the Job Market, see below.




The first strand of literature I am working on can be broadly thought of as market design. While that includes studying markets that have been designed (such as the National Residency Matching Market), I am also interested redesigning markets, or adding features such as signaling to help markets such as the economics job market work better. Most recently, I have been getting involved in working with the San Francisco Unified School District to help redesign their school choice system. In market design, I have used theory, experiments, as well as data collected by others.


My second strand of work is work on gender differences. So far, I have only experimental papers in that are, showing that women may not be as competitive as men, especially when they have to compete against men.


Finally, I am an experimental economist, and as such, have some experiments that fall outside my main areas of gender or market design. Most recently, I got interested in k-level models.




1.      Gneezy, Uri, Muriel Niederle, Aldo Rustichini, “Performance in Competitive Environments: Gender Differences”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, CXVIII, August 2003, 1049 – 1074.


2.      Niederle, Muriel, and Alvin E. Roth, “Relationship Between Wages and Presence of a Match in Medical Fellowships”, JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association, vol. 290, No. 9, September 3, 2003, 1153-1154.

2. a. Niederle, Muriel, and Alvin E. Roth, “Effect of a Match on Salaries for Medical Fellows—Reply,” JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association, vol. 290, No. 18, November 12, 2003, 2408.


3.      Niederle, Muriel and Alvin E. Roth, “Unraveling reduces mobility in a labor market: Gastroenterology with and without a centralized match”, Journal of Political Economy, vol. 111, No. 6, December 2003, 1342 – 1352.


4.      Niederle, Muriel, and Alvin E. Roth, “The Gastroenterology Fellowship Match: How it failed, and why it could succeed once again”, Gastroenterology, 127, August 2004, 658-666.

4. a.  Niederle, Muriel, and Alvin E. Roth, “Re-starting the Gastroenterology Match,” letter The American Journal of Gastroenterology, 100 (5), 1202-1203.


5.      Asker, John, Brit Grosskopf, C. Nicholas McKinney, Muriel Niederle, Alvin E. Roth and Georg Weizsäcker, “Teaching auction strategy using experiments administered via the Internet”, Journal of Economic Education, vol. 35, No. 4, Fall 2004, 330 – 342.


6.      Bereby-Meyer, Yoella, and Muriel Niederle, “Fairness in Bargaining,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, vol. 56, No. 2, February 2005, 173-186.


7.      Niederle, Muriel, and Alvin E. Roth, “The Gastroenterology Fellowship Market: Should there be a Match?American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings, vol. 95, No.2, May 2005


8.      McKinney, C. Nicholas, Muriel Niederle, and Alvin E. Roth, “The collapse of a medical labor clearinghouse (and why such failures are rare),” American Economic Review, vol. 95, No.3, June 2005, 878-889.


9.      Kirchsteiger, Georg, Muriel Niederle, and Jan Potters, “Endogenizing Market Institutions: An Experimental Approach”, European Economic Review, vol. 49, No. 7, October 2005, 1827-1853.


10.  Niederle, Muriel, Deborah D. Proctor and Alvin E. Roth, “What will be needed for the new GI fellowship match to succeed?”, Gastroenterology, 130, January 2006, 218-224.


11.  Niederle, Muriel, and Lise Vesterlund, “Do Women Shy away from Competition? Do Men Compete too Much?,” Quarterly Journal of Economics, August 2007, Vol. 122, No. 3: 1067-1101.


12.   Niederle, Muriel, “Competitive Wages in a Match with Ordered Contracts”, American Economic Review, vol. 97, No.5, December 2007, 1957 - 1969.


13.  Harner Christopher D., Anil S. Ranawat, Muriel Niederle, Alvin E. Roth, Peter J. Stern, Shepard R. Hurwitz, William Levine, G. Paul DeRosa, Serena S. Hu, “Current State of Fellowship Hiring: Is a universal match necessary? Is it possible?”, Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, June 2008; 90: 1375-1384.


14.  Niederle, Muriel, Alvin E. Roth and Tayfun Sonmez, “Matching”, The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd edition, Eds. Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.


15.  Niederle, Muriel, Deborah D. Proctor and Alvin E. Roth, “The Gastroenterology Fellowship Match – The First Two Years”, Gastroenterology, 135, August 2008, 344-346.


16.  Niederle, Muriel and Lise Vesterlund, “Gender Differences in Competition”, Negotiation Journal, October 2008, vol 24, No.4, 447-465.


17.  Niederle, Muriel, and Alvin E. Roth, “Market Culture: How Rules Governing Exploding Offers Affect Market Performance,” American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 2009, 2,1, 199-219. Technical appendix.


18.  Niederle, Muriel and Alvin E. Roth, “The Effects of a Central Clearinghouse on Job placement, Wages, and Hiring Practices”, Labor Market Intermediation, David Autor, Editor, The University of Chicago Press.


19.  Niederle, Muriel and Lise Vesterlund, “Explaining the Gender Gap in Math Test Scores: The Role of Competition,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, Spring 2010, Vol 24, Number 2, 129-144.


20.  Ivanov, Asen, Dan Levin and Muriel Niederle, “Can Relaxation of Beliefs Rationalize the Winner’s Curse? An Experimental Study”, Econometrica, July 2010, Vol. 78, No 4, 1435-1452. Supplementary Material.


21.  Peter Coles, John Cawley, Phillip B. Levine, Muriel Niederle, Alvin E. Roth, and John J. Siegfried, “The Job Market for New Economists: A Market Design Perspective,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, Fall 2010, Vol 24, Number 4, 187–206.


22.  Niederle, Muriel, “Intelligent Design: The Relationship of Economic Theory to Experiments: Treatment driven Experiments” in “Methods of Modern Experimental Economics”, edited by Guillaume Frechette and Andrew Schotter, Oxford University Press, forthcoming.


23.  Niederle, Muriel and Lise Vesterlund, “Gender and Competition”, Annual Review in Economics, 2011, 3, 601–30.


24.  Niederle, Muriel, Carmit Segal, and Lise Vesterlund, “How Costly is Diversity? Affirmative Action in Light of Gender Differences in CompetitivenessManagement Science, 2013, Vol 59, No. 1, 1-16 Instructions.


25.  Coles, Peter, Alexey Kushnir and Muriel Niederle, “Preference Signaling in Matching Markets”, American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 2013, 5(2), 99-134, Appendix and Extension.


26.  Niederle, Muriel, Alvin E. Roth and M. Utku Unver, “Unraveling Results from Comparable Demand and Supply”, Games, Special Issue: Games and Matching Markets, 2013, 4(2), 243-282.


27.  Buser, Thomas, Muriel Niederle and Hessel Oosterbeek, “Gender, Competitiveness and Career Choices,” forthcoming, Quarterly Journal of Economics, online appendix.


28.  Niederle, Muriel and Alvin E. Roth, “Philanthropically Funded Heroism Awards for Kidney Donors?” forthcoming in Law & Contemporary Problems, 77:3, 2014.






1.      Augenblick, Ned, Muriel Niederle and Charles Sprenger, “Working Over Time: Dynamic Inconsistency in Real Effort Tasks”, October 2013, revised and resubmitted, Quarterly Journal of Economics, online appendix.


2.      Mobius, Markus M., Muriel Niederle, Paul Niehaus and Tanya Rosenblat, “Managing Self-Confidence: Theory and Experimental Evidence”, December, 2013.


3.      Daniel E. Fragiadakis, Daniel T. Knoepfle and Muriel Niederle, “Identifying Predictable Players: Relating Behavioral Types and Subjects with Deterministic Rules”, Online Appendix, Instructions, December, 2013.


4.      Featherstone, Clayton and Muriel Niederle, “Improving on Strategy-proof School Choice Mechanisms: An Experimental Investigation,” July, 2013.


5.      Lee, Soohyung and Muriel Niederle, “Propose with a Rose? Signaling in Internet Dating Markets,” November 2011. Online Appendix.


6.      Niederle, Muriel and Alexandra H. Yestrumskas, “Gender Differences in Seeking Challenges: The Role of Institutions”, February 2008.


7.      Niederle, Muriel and Leeat Yariv, “Decentralized Matching with Aligned Preferences”, March 2009.





Daniel E. Fragiadakis: Dan is an Experimental Economist with a very strong Market Design component. He has two experimental papers (one not in matching) and two theory papers.


Peter Troyan: Pete is a Theorist with a special but not exclusive interest in Market Design. He has seven papers, of which two are published. He also has one experimental paper.

Market Design work:


NRMP: Gastroenterologists and Orthopaedic surgeons (centralized and decentralized matching markets)

Al Roth and I have studied the market for Gastroenterology Fellowships, as it moved from a centralized market to a decentralized one. This helped us understand the differences between the two ways of “organizing” such a market. We found that when the market was decentralized it was less national, a more local market, “Unraveling reduces mobility in a labor market: Gastroenterology with and without a centralized match.” With Nick McKinney we studied the approximate cause of the unusual event that a market suddenly abandoned a “well-functioning” centralized clearinghouse, “The collapse of a medical labor clearinghouse (and why such failures are rare)”. We established that as the market was decentralized (once more) it suffered from the common ailments of unraveling, short fuse offers and a thin market, “The Gastroenterology Fellowship Match: How it failed, and why it could succeed once again”, “The Gastroenterology Fellowship Market: Should there be a Match?”, and with Debbie Proctor, “What will be needed for the new GI fellowship match to succeed?”. In the latter paper, we also discussed the advantages of a match, and what would be needed to restart the match. In “Market Culture: How Rules Governing Exploding Offers Affect Market Performance,” we showed the detrimental effect of exploding offers, and how to curb them, which lead to the following resolution passed by all four Gastroenterology associations. The match was successfully restarted in June 2006, and the first two years seemed to go well, “The Gastroenterology Fellowship Match – The First Two Years”.


NRMP Class action suit

In 2002, 16 law firms filed an anti-trust suit against the NRMP and numerous other defendants on behalf of 3 former residents seeking to represent the class of all former residents (and naming as defendants a class including all hospitals that employ residents). It was dismissed on August 12, 2004 in an Opinion, Order & Judgment by Judge Paul L. Friedman. Here is the original lawsuit (later amended in various ways in different filings) and Orley Ashenfelter's expert report for the plaintiffs. The idea of the complaint was that a match artificially reduces wages for residents and fellows, because they can’t hold multiple over and bargain over the terms. My colleague Jon Levin, joint with Jeremy Bulow in their 2006 AER paper “Matching and Price Competition” provide some theoretical support for this claim, by showing that a match in which wages are fixed for each position results in lower wages than when each worker is paid his personal competitive wage. There are two ways to consider the relevancy of this claim: theoretically, and empirically. In terms of theory, Vincent Crawford showed in his 2008, JEBO paper that personalized prices could easily be incorporated in the match: “The Flexible-Salary Match: A Proposal to Increase the Salary Flexibility of the National Resident Matching Program”. In “Competitive Wages in a Match with Ordered Contracts” I observe that the way the NRMP allows for ordered contracts actually allows for competitive wages in simple models with unit demand, such as the one studied by Bulow and Levin. My colleague Fuhito Kojima shows in “Matching and Price Competition: Comment” that when firms can hire more than one worker, the impersonal prices may not result in lower wages for workers. In terms of empirical work, note that the gastroenterology market, as it became decentralized, did not allow workers to entertain several offers, but was rather chaotic, and wage negotiations were not common at all, see “What will be needed for the new GI fellowship match to succeed?”. Finally, in “Relationship Between Wages and Presence of a Match in Medical Fellowships” we show that there is no difference in wages between medicine subspecialties that use a match and those that don't. Congress passed legislation clarifying that the NRMP is a marketplace and does not violate antitrust laws. (This was attached to a larger bill, the Pension Funding Equity Act of 2004 Public Law 108-218; the relevant section is SEC. 207. CONFIRMATION OF ANTITRUST STATUS OF GRADUATE MEDICAL RESIDENT MATCHING PROGRAMS. This legislation led directly to the dismissal of the case. (In June 2006 the appellate court upheld the dismissal, and on January 8, the Supreme Court denied plaintiffs' petition to hear an appeal of the dismissal).

         There was a lot of media attention on the NRMP lawsuit, our work was, among other outlets, mentioned on September 13, 2003, in American Medical News, “Harvard economist argues that Match is not anticompetitive”, December 8, 2003, Harvard Murmur Weekly, Opinion, August 24, 2004, New York Times, “Tweaking the Math to Make Happier Medical Marriages,” by Sara Robinson. 


Signaling in Matching Markets:

In markets that are not centralized, those that make offers often have to not only determine how much a certain candidate may be valued, but also, what is the value of making that offer, which means, assessing the chances of being able to actually have the offer accepted. Many markets that are not centralized use some sort of signaling mechanisms, that facilitates such a transmission in a credible way. In “Preference Signaling in Matching Markets” Peter Coles, Alexey Kushnir and I show the theoretical underpinnings of such a signaling mechanism. It was implemented in the economics job market in the fall of 2006 (see for more details below). In “The Job Market for New Economists: A Market Design Perspective” we (the whole AEA Ad hoc Committee on the Job Market, see below) provide some suggestive evidence that signaling increases the chances of receiving an interview. In “Propose with a Rose? Signaling in Internet Dating Markets” Soohyung Lee and I show in a field experiment that sending a signal unambiguously increases ones chances for acceptance (in this case, in an internet dating market).



I am a member of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Job Market of the American Economic Association, that is chaired by Al Roth, and whose other members are John Cawley, Peter Coles, Philip Levine and John Siegfried. The goal is to make recommendations that improve the efficiency of the economics job market. The first recommendation was to help make the “aftermarket” thicker, through an the Economics Job Scramble, a web page on which applicants and employers can indicate their continued availability as of late March, which was started in the Spring of 2006. The second recommendation is the which went online November 20, 2006, is that the AEA will facilitate Signaling for Interviews in the Economics Job Market, to allow applicants to send up to two signals to employers with whom they would like to interview. We also provided some description and advice. Here is a report of the first few years to the Committee’s work.

On January 8, 2007 the Wall Street Journal published a story “Job Hunting Takes a Line from Dating” that was reprinted in various non-subscription-required places as "Economists Learn Matchmaker Role".


SFUSD: The desire for diversity

Jointly with Atila Abdulkadiroglu, Clayton Featherstone, Parag Pathak and Al Roth, we helped the San Francisco United School District redesign their school choice procedure. What makes SFUSD a somewhat different problem from the ones faced in Boston and New York, is that they have a strong preference for diversity. The slides about the final presentation to the school board can be found here. On March 9, 2010, the SFUSD school board unanimously voted for a new assignment system we helped propose. Since then, the SFUSD decided to have the program be made in-house, we wish them good luck with their expected implementation in 2011!


Gender work:


My work on gender differences started with looking at gender differences in competitive attitudes. In “Performance in Competitive Environments: Gender Differences” Uri Gneezy, Aldo Rustichini and I showed that there are large gender differences in performance in competitive environments, which are also significantly larger than the (not-significant) differences in non-competitive environments. Furthermore, these gender differences in competition are present largely when competition is in mixed sex, but not when it is in single sex groups.

The paper received multiple news-attention, for example in December 9, 2002, Business Week “Are Women Less Competitive?,” Economic Trends, by Gene Koretz, in June 28, 2003, The Economist, “Be a man,” (and subsequently in many other newspapers, radio shows and webforums).

         With Lise Vesterlund we looked at whether “Do Women Shy away from Competition? Do Men Compete too Much?”. We find support for both, when conditioning choices on actual performance, a measure of beliefs about relative performance and a measure of risk aversion.

         This paper too received large newspaper coverage, for example, in May 24, 2005, New York Times, “What Women Want,” Column by John Tierney, and in the New York Times, Economic Scene by Hal Varian on March 9, 2006, “The Difference Between Men and Women, Revisited: It's About Competition”.




For a book on experimental methodology, I wrote the following that can be viewed as a piece of advice on how to design good experiments: “Intelligent Design: The Relationship of Economic Theory to Experiments: Treatment driven Experiments”.


Recently, I got asked to write about pursuing and defending unusual research topics (I feel like I just turned old;). Here is a slightly extended version.





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