The gist: the Nobel selection process is famously secretive (and conducted in Swedish!) but we pry the lid off, at least a little bit. Read More »
Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called “Make Me a Match.” (You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript, which includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)
The gist of the episode: Sure, markets generally work well. But for some transactions — like school admissions and organ transplants — money alone can’t solve the problem. That’s when you need a market-design wizard like Al Roth. Read More »
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Google translate renders the headline “Donate one of your kidneys to be exempted from military service.”
Al Roth, the Nobel Prize winner and market design guru who’s worked on everything from organ exchanges to school matching, posts a reader email about Wagaroo, a new matching market for dog buyers and responsible breeders. Christine Exley, an Economics grad student at Stanford, writes:
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It is estimated that 23.5 million people plan to acquire a pet every year. Of this, 1.5 million intend to buy their pet from a breeder, 5 million are committed to adopting their pet, and 17 million are undecided about the source for their new pet. At the same time, 3 million dogs and cats are killed every year in shelters because they cannot find a home. When you account for people acquiring dogs from shelters, rescue groups, the street (i.e., strays), friends, family members and purebred breeders, there are still over 6 million people acquiring dogs and cats from “other” sources. These other sources (as well as some of the listed sources) are likely puppy mills – places that mass-produce dogs for profit in horrid conditions.
When I talk about economists, one of the greatest compliments I give is to say that they changed the way people think about the world. Al Roth definitely fits into that category. The type of economics he is best known for is what is called “Market Design.” Essentially, it means bringing market-type thinking to areas in which historically non-market allocation mechanisms have been used. A few examples of the areas Roth has explored are matching fledgling doctors to hospitals for their residency, matching students to public schools in school choice programs, and matching kidney donors with those who need a kidney.
I know Roth changed my thinking because the first time I read Roth’s work in this area I had a strong reaction: this isn’t really economics. Read More »
Season 3, Episode 5
Since the beginning of civilization, human waste has been considered worthless at best and quite often dangerous. What if it turns out we were wrong? In this episode of Freakonomics Radio, host Stephen Dubner explores the power of poop, focusing on an experimental procedure called a fecal transplant (some call it a “transpoosion”), which may offer promising results not only for intestinal problems but also obesity and neurological disorders. We’ll talk to two doctors at the vanguard of this procedure and a patient who says it changed his life. Read More »
Not that Roth is himself in any way repugnant (quite the opposite), but he is masterful at thinking about the kind of transactions that we find morally or ethically or otherwise disturbing and how the trends of repugnance shift over time.
For a forthcoming book anthology called In 100 Years (inspired, Roth tells us, by a 1930 essay by Keynes called “Economic Possibilities of Our Grandchildren"), Roth has written an essay (PDF here) about the future of repugnance: Read More »