Who Gets What—and Why: The New Economics of Match Making and Market Design

Who Gets What—and Why: The New Economics of Match Making and Market Design

Alvin E. Roth, author and the 2012 winner of The Nobel Prize in Economics

June 15, 2015

Alvin RothAlvin E. Roth, author and the 2012 winner of The Nobel Prize in Economics spoke to a Noblis audience at the organization's annual General Edward C. Meyer Innovative Leadership Lecture Series. His presentation was entitled "Who Gets What—and Why." In his presentation, Dr. Roth reveals the often surprising rules that govern a vast array of activities—both mundane and life-changing—in which money may play little or no role.

If you’ve ever sought a job or hired someone, applied to college or guided your child into a good kindergarten, asked someone out on a date or been asked out, you’ve participated in a kind of market. Most of the study of economics deals with commodity markets, where the price of a good connects sellers and buyers. But what about other kinds of “goods,” like a spot in the Yale freshman class or a position at Google? This is the territory of matching markets, where “sellers” and “buyers” must choose each other, and price isn’t the only factor determining who gets what.

Roth is one of the world’s leading experts on matching markets. He has even designed several of them, including the exchange that places medical students in residencies and the system that increases the number of kidney transplants by better matching donors to patients. In Who Gets What—And Why, Roth reveals the matching markets hidden around us and shows how to recognize a good match and make smarter, more confident decisions. 

  • The concept of matching markets isn’t an airy, theoretical conceit. From mastering the college admissions game to improving your odds with online dating websites, matching is all around us in everyday life. If you’ve ever sought a job or hired someone, applied to college or guided your child into a good kindergarten, asked someone out on a date or been asked out, you’ve participated in a kind of matching market.
  • Who Gets What—and Why covers such subjects as the hiring process and the commercial opportunities available to companies that perform matching services online (eBay and Amazon are both examples). Business readers will come away from the book with a new way of looking at making a sale, brokering a deal, and finding good talent.
  • Roth makes clear that the concept of the “free market” is pure fiction. All markets need regulation to function properly—and Roth proves it, dismantling the myths put forth by a generation of influential rightwing economists.
  • Like Dan Gilbert, Roth is a truly accessible writer with a gift for making economic ideas easily understandable and, indeed, beautiful.

Who Gets What and Why

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