Can applied economics save homeless puppies?

Well, there is some hope from the subject atleast.

An interesting case of how Christine Exley and Elena Battles are using economics (market design principles) to hemp homeless puppies find homes:

In 2012, two seasoned scholars shared the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for their research on designing markets. Lloyd Shapley had developed theoretical methods to create stable matches in unstable markets. Alvin Roth had taken the theory to the real world, co-founding a kidney donation matching system for New England, correcting public school choice programs in New York and Boston, and tackling markets for new medical residents, economists, and lawyers.

That same year, Christine L. Exley and Elena Battles launched a startup called Wagaroo in another noble market design pursuit: finding homes for dogs and vice versa. The Wagaroo website describes the company as “a team of fun humans with years of dog experience and a desire to create a healthier, happier marketplace for matching dogs and people.”

As with the work that won the Nobel Prize, “with Wagaroo, we’re trying to solve some standard economic problems related to market design,” says Exley, who joined the Harvard Business School faculty in June, as an assistant professor in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets unit.

One economic problem is search costs—the time, money, and effort spent on researching which dog to adopt. Another is information asymmetry—in which one person involved in an economic transaction has more information than the other.

“The individual or organization trying to find a home for a dog often has more information on that dog than you do as a potential buyer or pet guardian, and that can lead to adverse situations,” Exley says. “The information asymmetry and search costs were what really motivated Wagaroo.”

In his research on market design, Roth has said that a successful marketplace must be “thick,” meaning there are enough participants for the market to thrive. “Pet finding is definitely a thick market,” Exley says. “About 23 million people each year are looking for a new pet. The majority of those individuals are open to several options when it comes to where those pets are coming from. Yet, about 3 million dogs and cats are killed every year because they don’t get homes, so there’s clearly room for improvement in matching pets with families.”

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