Monday, November 20, 2017

Who Gets What and Why in Vietnamese: Sách Ai được gì và tại sao

Who Gets What and Why has come out in Vietnamese:
Nobel Kinh tế Giáo sư Alvin Roth – Sách Ai được gì và tại sao (Who gets what and why)

The book comes with a foreword I wrote for the Vietnamese edition, after corresponding about it with Quoc-Anh Do.  The foreword touches on translation, so it's interesting to note that Google translate at the above link doesn't yet do so well. Here is the original (instead of the automatic back translation into English of the human translation into Vietnamese by Dang Tùng.)

Foreword to the Vietnamese Edition

The translation of a book about markets from English to Vietnamese is an opportunity to remember that markets, like languages, are ancient human artifacts. Markets and languages are both tools that human beings construct together to help us coordinate with one another, and that we constantly update to meet modern needs.

Just as there are different languages, there are different kinds of markets, and different ways to organize them. Commodity markets are markets in which prices determine who gets what, and market participants can deal with one another anonymously. But many markets involve relationships, and in those markets you care who you are dealing with, and who gets what isn’t decided by prices alone.  Matching markets are markets in which you can’t just choose what you want, but also must be chosen.  Prices don’t do all the work in matching markets, and sometimes we don’t let prices play any role at all. Matching in one form or another determines who goes to which schools and universities, who gets which jobs, and who marries whom, and sometimes who gets certain kinds of medical care, like organ transplants.

Most markets and marketplaces operate in the substantial space between Adam Smith’s invisible hand and Chairman Mao’s five-year plans. Markets differ from central planning because no one but the participants themselves determines who gets what. And marketplaces differ from anything-goes laissez faire because participants enter the marketplace knowing that it has rules.

Market design is about finding rules to make markets work well. Often this is a process of trial and error. For example, in many countries, the process of school assignment and university admissions is riskier and more stressful for students than it needs to be. This book describes how my colleagues and I have helped make school choice safer and simpler for many American students, and made it likely that they will get schools that they prefer. Perhaps our experience can help Vietnamese economists and policy makers get some ideas about how to improve the famously stressful college admissions process in Vietnam.  

The book also describes how the system of matching doctors to their first jobs was redesigned in the United States and elsewhere, and some of the problems that had to be overcome in those markets, and similar ones.

I hope this book will help readers look at who gets what and how in Vietnam, and find ways to make some of those markets work better.
Alvin E. Roth
Stanford, California

12 January 2017

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