Our Main Research Areas
The center’s research program focuses on the following four areas (with research on topics not falling into these areas also undertaken as necessary).
With the labor landscape facing transformative changes including a decline in the working population—due to the declining birthrate and population aging—and changes in job-hunting rules, improving the labor market through institutional design is becoming an urgent issue. For example, members of the research center have already put forward specific proposals for improving the system by which i are assigned to their positions, and we aim to pursue further research and implementations in collaboration with real-world institutions in this area. We also plan to engage in collaborative research with various public and private-sector organizations with a view to correcting the trend toward excessively early job hunting among graduates, improving mid-career hiring and the rehiring of people past retirement age, developing the market for mid-career leavers with high career aspirations (career market design), and increasing human resources efficiency within companies and other organizations.
Education is, needless to say, crucial to modern societies, and an important research theme at UTMD is that of examining how scarce educational resources can be distributed as efficiently and as fairly as possible. For example, to address Japan’s childcare waitlist problem, we hope to further advance our current research in collaboration with local governments with the aim of implementing a solution. Applications we envision for our work include the issue of school choice (i.e., the choice of which public elementary or middle school to attend), high-school and university entrance examinations, and intra-institutional matching problems such as the University of Tokyo’s senior course selection system and laboratory assignments (i.e., which laboratory students are assigned to for graduate work). We aim to amass institutional knowledge in these areas while carrying out collaborative research with a view to implementing solutions.
This project incorporates appropriate monetary transfer rules into institutional structures to design the desired platforms. Humans have been using forms of auctions such as the ascending-price auction since ancient times. Our project seeks to illuminate the pros and cons of existing rules here in order to propose better designs tailored to the circumstances. Specifically, we are looking at areas such as the rules for allocating and reallocating telecommunications frequency bands intended for a wide range of business uses as well as the development of blockchain platforms for fueling startups through the use of cryptocurrency. Other areas under consideration include the shift to online agricultural markets, the allocation of airline takeoff and landing slots, the electricity market, and the financial system.
Disaster relief and health care
Japan experiences a high rate of natural disasters, including earthquakes and flooding, and it is further out on the curve than any other country in terms of population aging and birthrate decline, and this is making its various systems related to disasters, medical care, and nursing care all the more important. The country also has a strong need for systems that are effective in dealing with the threat of coronaviruses and other infectious diseases. This project aims to develop methods for achieving the desirable allocation of medical resources, with examples including implementations of institutional design in organ transplant networks that have advanced outside of Japan, the distribution of vaccines, testing kits and therapeutics for combatting pandemics, the prioritization of testing and inpatient treatment, and the way in which medical triage is handled. Our research in the area of natural disasters focuses on the distribution of emergency relief supplies, the matching of disaster victims and (temporary) housing, and the creation of systems for optimally assigning volunteers (who increase in number sharply immediately after a disaster) to different disaster-stricken areas. We also plan to conduct institutional design research aimed at broadly improving the social safety net, dealing with topics such as the decision to place elderly individuals in special-care nursing homes and the apportionment of food by food banks.