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Matching Markets and Saving Refugees

Article Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/04/04/europes-asylum-system-serves-neither-the-refugees-nor-the-countries-heres-a-new-way-of-thinking-about-it/?utm_term=.507b64538333

First and foremost, I would like to say that this is probably the best use of algorithmic matching in a real life situation. This is especially true since the system they have in place now is chaotic and not getting the job done. The reporter asking questions about how a “matching market” works asks some pretty good questions as to what they are and how they work.  For example the reporter asks “Is there any concern that refugees would all express the same preferences, that there wouldn’t be enough diversity of choice?”.  I think it is important to the people who don’t really understand matching to realize that it isn’t really about getting everyone their FIRST choice. It is about giving people the best choice possible given the constraints.

Moreover, I think that this is a more difficult problem than the simple matching algorithms that we went over in class. In class, the algorithms we talked about were fairly simple were each person had a preference list. However, as was brought up in the article the problem at hand is more complex because there are more factors to take into account. For example, for a city to express their preferences how could they give a simple numbered value on how they prefer a refugee over another. There would have to be some sort of equation formulation which would take into account various characteristics of the refugees in questions: How big is their family? How old is each member? Do they have any skills? etc. More importantly, however is who gets to decide how each of these things are weighted? Although, this is a complex problem I do think this is a great use of our algorithmic understanding and applying it to the real world.

 

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