Who Gets What: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design | Summary and Q&A

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May 13, 2013
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Stanford Graduate School of Business
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Who Gets What: The New Economics of Matchmaking and Market Design

TL;DR

Market design plays a crucial role in making markets work effectively, and understanding repugnant transactions helps create efficient marketplaces.

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Key Insights

  • 🎨 Market design is essential for creating effective marketplaces and understanding how transactions occur.
  • 👯 Repugnant transactions, which some people oppose, can shape the dynamics of a market and influence its regulations.
  • 👨‍🏫 Market design principles can be applied to various areas, such as school choice systems and emerging markets.
  • 🎨 The safety and ethics of transactions are important considerations in market design.

Transcript

[MUSIC] I'm delighted this evening to have the privilege of introducing this evening's speaker, Al Roth. Al is the inaugural Craig and Susan McCool professor of economics at Stanford. Al arrived here just in time to win the Nobel Prize. Which we're very pleased about. Not just because he won the prize but because he did it here. >> [LAUGH]

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Questions & Answers

Q: How does kidney exchange work without the use of money?

Kidney exchange involves a system where individuals who need a kidney and have a willing donor can be matched with another incompatible pair to find a compatible kidney. The exchange occurs simultaneously in operating rooms to ensure fair and immediate transplants.

Q: Are there any concerns about the safety and ethics of kidney exchange?

Kidney exchange is regulated to ensure the safety and well-being of all participants. The process involves thorough physical and psychological evaluations to ensure donors are making informed decisions. This prevents exploitation and coercion in the exchange.

Q: Why are some transactions considered repugnant?

Repugnant transactions are those that some people want to engage in, while others oppose. These transactions raise ethical concerns and often involve issues related to human dignity, coercion, and the proper scope of markets. The line between what is considered repugnant and acceptable can vary between individuals and societies.

Q: Can market design principles be applied to other areas beyond kidney exchange?

Yes, market design principles can be applied to various areas, including school choice systems, labor markets, and financial markets. By considering factors such as thick markets, safety, and understandability, market design can improve the functioning of different marketplaces.

Summary

In this video, Al Roth, an expert in market design, discusses the concept of marketplaces and how they work. He explains that markets are not only commodity markets where money is the primary factor, but also matching markets where people have to be chosen. He then focuses on kidney exchange as an example of a matching market where money is not used. Roth discusses the logistics and complexities of kidney exchange, including the need for simultaneous surgeries and the benefits of non-simultaneous exchange. He also touches on the topic of repugnant transactions and how society determines what can be bought and sold.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is market design?

Market design is the process of thinking about what marketplaces have to accomplish in order to make markets work well. It considers how markets function and what they need to succeed.

Q: Why is money important in commodity markets?

In commodity markets, money plays a significant role as supply and demand determine who gets what. Since these markets involve large trades in a big market, the identity of the participants is not crucial.

Q: What are matching markets?

Matching markets are markets where individuals have to be chosen, not just based on their ability to pay, but also based on their compatibility with other participants. Examples include school choice systems, labor markets, and organ transplantation.

Q: How does kidney exchange work?

Kidney exchange is a matching market where individuals who need a kidney transplant but cannot receive one from their own donor can participate. In kidney exchange, individuals with willing donors who are incompatible with them can exchange donors with other pairs to find a compatible match.

Q: Why is kidney exchange done simultaneously?

Kidney exchanges are often done simultaneously to ensure that each pair receives a compatible kidney. If the exchange is not simultaneous and a link breaks, the second pair would not receive a kidney and would no longer be eligible to participate in the exchange.

Q: What are the logistical challenges of kidney exchange?

Kidney exchange requires multiple operating rooms and surgical teams to perform the necessary surgeries simultaneously. This can limit the number of transplants that can be done at once. Non-simultaneous exchange offers potential for larger exchanges by utilizing the same resources at different times.

Q: Why is kidney exchange a significant part of the healthcare system?

Kidney exchange is important because there is a shortage of available kidneys for transplant. It provides an opportunity for patients who have willing donors but are incompatible to still receive a kidney and improve their quality of life.

Q: Why is buying and selling kidneys not allowed?

There are legal restrictions on buying and selling kidneys, primarily due to ethical concerns. Many society members believe that organ transplantation should not involve monetary transactions and that it is important to prioritize saving lives over financial gain.

Q: What are repugnant transactions?

Repugnant transactions are transactions that some people want to engage in, but others do not want them to. These transactions can vary across time and place and often involve societal values or moral judgments.

Q: Why is money sometimes added to transactions to make them repugnant?

Money can make transactions repugnant because it changes the nature of the exchange. Some transactions may be acceptable when done voluntarily but become objectionable when money is involved. Society often has norms or laws in place to regulate such transactions.

Takeaways

Markets are not only commodity markets where money is the primary factor, but also matching markets where individuals have to be chosen. Kidney exchange is an example of a matching market where non-simultaneous exchange offers potential for larger exchanges. However, market design needs to take into account the complexities and societal values of transactions to determine what is repugnant and what is allowed. Understanding these intuitions will help us develop better marketplaces that align with societal norms and values.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Market design involves thinking about what marketplaces need to accomplish to function well.

  • Marketplaces can include various types of transactions, not just those involving money.

  • Kidney exchange is a market where no money is used, but it functions effectively through careful design and coordination.

  • Repugnant transactions, which some people want to engage in while others oppose, play a role in shaping market dynamics.

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