Category Archives: Economists
Neale Mahoney, PhD, is assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Scholar in Health Policy Research at Harvard University. This post is part of the "Health Care in 2013" series.
If you’re looking for peace and joy this holiday season, don’t invite a liberal and a conservative health economist to your holiday party. Health economists from the political left and the political right tend to have very different views on what ails the U.S. health care system – and what should be done to fix it. After a glass or two of punch, they are likely to become loud and argumentative—dampening the holiday spirit.
But if you’re Barack Obama and John Boehner, and you’re looking to heal our health care system this holiday, invite over a few strident health economists and let the eggnog flow. There are important truths being articulated by both extremes of the health policy spectrum. A wise policy-maker would harness this diversity of wisdom.
Every year, fourth-year medical students anxiously await “Match Day,” when they learn where they will complete their residencies. But long before they receive their sealed envelopes, an algorithm is at work matching them with schools based on their own rankings and those of the institutions to which they are applying. This week, two men responsible for that algorithm were recognized with the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.
In the 1950s and 60s, Lloyd Shapley, PhD, helped create the main concept of “pairwise matching,” or how individuals can be paired up if they have different views regarding who would be the best match. His model was the basis for the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP).
Alvin Roth, who worked independently of Shapley but had closely studied the algorithm as well as other countries’ medical markets, helped redesign the NRMP in 1995 to take into account married couples searching for residencies in the same region or at the same hospital, and to eliminate the system’s bias for hospitals over students.
The new system is still used today, and helps match more than 20,000 positions a year. The scholars’ work is also used to match students to high schools and to match up kidney donors.