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Matching Through Position Auctions


  • Terence Johnson

    () (Department of Economics, University of Notre Dame)


This paper studies how an intermediary should design two-sided matching markets when agents are privately informed about their quality as a partner and can make payments to the intermediary. Using a mechanism design approach, I derive sufficient conditions for assortative matching to be profit- or welfare-maximizing, and then show how to implement the optimal match and payments through two-sided position auctions. This sharpens our understanding of intermediated matching markets by clarifying when assortative matching is a solution, and the nature of optimal price discrimination when there are cross-market externalities. An extension considers the case when the matchmaker cannot keep the reports or bids of the agents secret ex post, partially undermining his ability to block unprofitable matches.

Suggested Citation

  • Terence Johnson, 2009. "Matching Through Position Auctions," Working Papers 001, University of Notre Dame, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:nod:wpaper:001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Board, Simon, 2009. "Monopolistic group design with peer effects," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 4(1), March.
    2. Jeremy Bulow & Jonathan Levin, 2006. "Matching and Price Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 652-668, June.
    3. R. Preston McAfee, 2002. "Coarse Matching," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 2025-2034, September.
    4. Heidrun C. Hoppe & Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela, 2009. "The Theory of Assortative Matching Based on Costly Signals," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 253-281.
    5. John William Hatfield & Paul R. Milgrom, 2005. "Matching with Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 913-935, September.
    6. Paul Milgrom & Ilya Segal, 2002. "Envelope Theorems for Arbitrary Choice Sets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 583-601, March.
    7. Ettore Damiano & Hao Li, 2007. "Price discrimination and efficient matching," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 30(2), pages 243-263, February.
    8. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Marriage: Part II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages 11-26, Part II, .
    9. Heidrun Hoppe & Benny Moldovanu & Emre Ozdenoren, 2011. "Coarse matching with incomplete information," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 47(1), pages 75-104, May.
    10. Michael Spence, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-374.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gomes, Renato & Pavan, Alessandro, 2016. "Many-to-many matching and price discrimination," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 11(3), September.

    More about this item


    Matching; Mechanism Design; Intermediation;

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation


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