Nobel Laureate Alvin Roth: Controversial Markets

01, Market Design Talks

Seminar talk at the Zurich Center for Market Design

Date: April 13, 2021

Speaker: Alvin E. Roth (Stanford University)

Abstract: I became interested in controversial markets when I started to study kidney transplantation, because buying and selling kidneys for transplants is illegal (almost) everywhere.  Since then I’ve had a chance to think about a variety of transactions that are legal in some places and not in others, including prostitution, surrogacy, and various forms of kidney exchange, some of which are still controversial.  I’ll include examples that seem controversial in Switzerland.

Bio: Al Roth is the Craig and Susan McCaw Professor of Economics at Stanford University. He shared the 2012 Nobel memorial prize in Economics. His research interests are in game theory, experimental economics, and market design. He directed the redesign of the National Resident Matching Program, through which most American doctors find their first employment. He helped design the high school choice system used in New York City and the matching systems for students of all ages in several other large American cities. He is one of the organizers and designers of kidney exchange in the United States, which helps incompatible patient-donor pairs find life-saving compatible kidneys for transplantation. This work led him to become interested in repugnant transactions, and more generally how markets, and bans on markets, gain or fail to gain social support. You can find his blog on market design at

Host and Moderator: Prof. Dr. Sven Seuken (University of Zurich)