Theoretical Economics, Volume 15, Number 3 (July 2020)

Theoretical Economics 15 (2020), 1221–1278

Optimal dynamic matching

Mariagiovanna Baccara, SangMok Lee, Leeat Yariv


We study a dynamic matching environment where individuals arrive sequentially. There is a tradeoff between waiting for a thicker market, allowing for higher-quality matches, and minimizing agents' waiting costs. The optimal mechanism cumulates a stock of incongruent pairs up to a threshold and matches all others in an assortative fashion instantaneously. In discretionary settings, a similar protocol ensues in equilibrium, but expected queues are inefficiently long. We quantify the welfare gain from centralization, which can be substantial, even for low waiting costs. We also evaluate welfare improvements generated by alternative priority protocols.

Keywords: Dynamic matching, mechanism design, organ donation, market design

JEL classification: D470

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