Harvard expert on making life changing markets work

10 July 2012

Professor Alvin Roth
Matching markets are like marriage where each party has to equally choose the other, says Professor Alvin Roth.

In the next Sydney Ideas lecture a leading economist will discuss his experiences in the US designing markets that have some of the most important impacts on our lives - school markets, job markets and health markets.

Harvard Business School's Professor Alvin Roth specialises in the particularly difficult field of matching markets - that is, markets in which you can't just choose what you want, but where you also have to be chosen. He has designed markets that match high school students to high schools, kidney donors to kidney recipients and medical residents to hospitals.

"If a market has an application or selection procedure, it's a matching market, and matching markets determine some of the most important transitions in life," notes Professor Roth. Who goes to which schools and universities? Who gets which jobs? Who gets scarce organs for transplant?

Professor Roth likens matching markets - such as employment markets and university admissions - to courtship and marriage: each is a two-sided matching market that involves searching and wooing on both sides.

"You can't just inform Harvard that you're enrolling, or Google that you are showing up for work. You also have to be admitted or hired. Neither can Google or Harvard simply choose who will come to them, any more than one spouse can simply choose another: each also has to be chosen."

In this Sydney Ideas lecture, titled Who gets what: the new economics of matchmaking and market design, Professor Alvin Roth will talk about the problems of designing good matching markets, using real world examples of markets he has helped design, including school markets in New York City, Boston and Denver and kidney exchange programs in the US.

Al Roth is the George Gund Professor of Economics and Business Administration in the Department of Economics at Harvard University. He works in game theory, experimental economics, and market design. He redesigned the National Resident Matching Program in the US, through which approximately 25,000 doctors a year find their first employment as residents at American hospitals.

He helped design the high school matching system used in New York City to match approximately 90,000 students to high schools each year, and he is one of the founders and designers of the New England Program for Kidney Exchange, for incompatible patient-donor pairs.

Event details

What: Who Gets What: the new economics of matchmaking and market design, a Sydney Ideas lecture, co-presented with the School of Economics, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

When: 6 to 7.30pm, Tuesday 10 July

Where: Foyer, New Law Building, Camperdown Campus. See map and directions

Cost: This event is free and open to all, with no ticket or booking required. Seating is unreserved and entry is on a first come, first served basis.

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Contact: Katie Szittner

Phone: 02 9351 2261, 0478 316 809

Email: 05144c2d50481a3f223b1204085d28063d3316064e6a3515201a3533