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An Invitation to Market Design

Market design seeks to translate economic theory and analysis into practical solutions to real-world problems. By redesigning both the rules that guide market transactions and the infrastructure that enables those transactions to take place, market designers can address a broad range of market failures. In this paper, we illustrate the process and power of market design through three examples: the design of medical residency matching programs; a scrip system to allocate food donations to food banks; and the recent “Incentive Auction” that reallocated wireless spectrum from television broadcasters to telecoms. Our lead examples show how effective market design can encourage participation, reduce gaming, and aggregate information, in order to improve liquidity, efficiency, and equity in markets. We also discuss a number of fruitful applications of market design in other areas of economic and public policy.

Authors: 
Scott Kominers, Harvard Business School
Alexander Teytelboym, Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford
Vincent Crawford, Oxford University
Publication Date: 
September, 2017
Publication Status: 
Document Number: 
2017-069
File Description: 
First version, September 4, 2017