Not going away: on Al Roth’s 2018 AEA Presidential Address and the ethical shyness of market designers

The Undercover Historian

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 19.48.49Encountering Al Roth’s ideas has always been a “squaring the circle” experience to me. The man is the epitome of swag (as my students would say), his ideas the hype, and his past achievements ubiquitous in the media. He has become the antidote for post-2008 econ criticisms, the poster child for a science that is socially useful, that saves lives. And yet, as he proceeds to explain the major tenets of market design, I’m usually  left puzzled.

20180106_171323-001Yesterday’s presidential address was no exception (edit: here’s the webcast of his talk).Roth outlined many examples of how matching market design can improve citizens’ life, from making the economics job market thicker to avoiding domestic fights in pediatric surgeons’ households, to substantially raising the number of kidney transplants in the US, thereby effectively saving lives. Though the rules of each market differs, design principles are often identical. Repugnance, congestion or…

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About Jim Rose

Utopia - you are standing in it promotes a classical liberal view of the world and champion the mass flourishing of humanity through capitalism and the rule of law. The origin of the blog is explained in the first blog post at

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