Can economists save lives? It seems Nobel laureate Alvin Roth can…In this episode, Roth talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about matching markets and social support for markets. The conversation ranges over indirect kidney donations, (public) school choice, financial market trading, and more.

As always, we’d like to take this chance to enrich the experience of this week’s conversation. Use the prompts below to respond in the comments, and use them to spark you own conversations offline.

1. What were your top takeaways from this week’s episode?

2. Roth asserts that in matching markets, prices function differently than they do in commodities markets? How would you describe this difference?

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3. How might the market for kidneys work if it were legal to buy and sell a kidney? Who would be better off and who would be worse if compared to a situation where such exchanges are illegal but donations are coordinated and chained the way Roth describes? Do you think rich people would get all the kidneys? Why or why not?

4. At the end of the episode, Roth defended his role as an economic engineer saying, “People have been designing marketplaces forever. It’s what we do.” Russ ended the episode here. How might he have responded if he had decided to continue?