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011 Alvin Roth: Who gets what and why

Roth explains how markets are designed and how matchmakers help solve problems of allocation, from kidney transplants to school choice.

Alvin Roth: Who gets what and why


In "Who Gets What – and Why," Nobel Prize-winning economist Alvin Roth explores how market design and matchmaking are used to solve complex allocation problems. He provides real-world examples of how marketplaces can be redesigned to ensure fairness, efficiency, and transparency. Roth's work has helped redesign markets for everything from kidney donations to school choices. He explains how traditional markets may fail in certain situations and offers a new perspective on market design. He emphasizes the importance of market design and matchmaking in solving complex allocation problems, and how they can help create a more efficient and equitable society.


Title: Who Gets What – and Why: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design

Author: Alvin Roth

Publishing year: 2015

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Length in hours: 7 hours and 41 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. Market design is a crucial aspect of economic systems, and poorly designed markets can lead to inefficiencies and failures.
  2. Matchmaking and market design can help solve allocation problems, such as kidney donations and school choices.
  3. The process of market design involves identifying the key elements that influence market outcomes, such as supply and demand, and creating rules and mechanisms to ensure fair and efficient outcomes.
  4. The design of markets can have a significant impact on society, affecting everything from healthcare to education to politics.
  5. Market design can be used to create more equitable outcomes and promote social welfare, and it is an important tool for addressing some of the most pressing challenges of our time.
Alvin Roth: Who gets what and why

5 funny quotes

  1. "If you think economists are boring, you haven't met a market designer."
  2. "Market design may not be as exciting as rock and roll, but it's just as important."
  3. "If you want to make God laugh, try designing a market."
  4. "Economists are great at telling you what happened yesterday, but not so great at predicting tomorrow."
  5. "If you ever want to start a fight among economists, just bring up the topic of market design."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "Markets are more than just buyers and sellers. They are social institutions that shape our lives and our society."
  2. "Market design is not just about making markets more efficient, it's about making them more fair and just."
  3. "Matching is at the heart of what makes us human."
  4. "Market design can help us solve some of the biggest problems facing society today, from healthcare to education to climate change."
  5. "The future of market design is not just about technology, it's about understanding human behavior and designing markets that work for everyone."

5 dilemmas

  1. How can market design help solve the problem of unequal access to healthcare?
  2. Should schools use a lottery system or a merit-based system for admission?
  3. How can we design a market for carbon credits to combat climate change?
  4. Should we use market mechanisms to allocate scarce resources in times of crisis?
  5. How can we design a fair and efficient market for organ donation?

5 examples

  1. Kidney exchange programs, where donors are matched with recipients.
  2. The New York City high school choice system, where students are matched with schools.
  3. The National Residency Matching Program, where medical residents are matched with hospitals.
  4. The Federal Communications Commission's auction of wireless spectrum licenses.
  5. The online dating industry, where matchmaking algorithms are used to match couples.

Referenced books

  1. "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman
  2. "Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness" by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein
  3. "The Winner's Curse: Paradoxes and Anomalies of Economic Life" by Richard H. Thaler
  4. "The Design of Everyday Things" by Don Norman
  5. "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything" by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

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"Markets are more than just buyers and sellers. They are social institutions that shape our lives and our society."

Alvin Roth: Who gets what and why
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