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Why do popular mechanisms lack efficiency in random environments?

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  • Kesten, Onur

Abstract

We consider the problem of randomly assigning n indivisible objects to n agents. Recent research introduced a promising mechanism, the probabilistic serial that has superior efficiency properties than the most common real-life mechanism random priority. On the other hand, mechanisms based on Gale's celebrated top trading cycles method have long dominated the indivisible goods literature (with the exception of the present context) thanks to their outstanding efficiency features. We present an equivalence result between the three kinds of mechanisms, that may help better understand why efficiency differences among popular mechanisms might arise in random environments. This result also suggests that the probabilistic serial and the random priority mechanisms can be viewed as two top trading cycles based mechanisms that essentially differ in the initial conditions of the market before trading starts.

Suggested Citation

  • Kesten, Onur, 2009. "Why do popular mechanisms lack efficiency in random environments?," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(5), pages 2209-2226, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:144:y:2009:i:5:p:2209-2226
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Yeon-Koo Che & Fuhito Kojima, 2010. "Asymptotic Equivalence of Probabilistic Serial and Random Priority Mechanisms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(5), pages 1625-1672, September.
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    10. Hylland, Aanund & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1979. "The Efficient Allocation of Individuals to Positions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(2), pages 293-314, April.
    11. McLennan, Andrew, 2002. "Ordinal Efficiency and the Polyhedral Separating Hyperplane Theorem," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 435-449, August.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kesten, Onur & Ünver, M. Utku, 2015. "A theory of school choice lotteries," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 10(2), May.
    2. Hougaard, Jens Leth & Moreno-Ternero, Juan D. & Østerdal, Lars Peter, 2014. "Assigning agents to a line," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 539-553.
    3. Onur Kesten & Morimitsu Kurino & Alexander S. Nesterov, 2017. "Efficient lottery design," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 48(1), pages 31-57, January.
    4. Fuhito Kojima & M. Ünver, 2014. "The “Boston” school-choice mechanism: an axiomatic approach," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 55(3), pages 515-544, April.
    5. Hugh-Jones, David & Kurino, Morimitsu & Vanberg, Christoph, 2014. "An experimental study on the incentives of the probabilistic serial mechanism," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 367-380.
    6. Onur Kesten & Ayşe Yazıcı, 2012. "The Pareto-dominant strategy-proof and fair rule for problems with indivisible goods," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 50(2), pages 463-488, June.
    7. repec:eee:jetheo:v:170:y:2017:i:c:p:145-168 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Özgün Ekici & Onur Kesten, 2016. "An equilibrium analysis of the probabilistic serial mechanism," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 45(3), pages 655-674, August.
    9. Cho, Wonki Jo, 2016. "When is the probabilistic serial assignment uniquely efficient and envy-free?," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 14-25.
    10. Fuhito Kojima & M. Utku Ünver, 2010. "The 'Boston' School-Choice Mechanism," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 729, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 08 Oct 2010.
    11. YIlmaz, Özgür, 2010. "The probabilistic serial mechanism with private endowments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 475-491, July.
    12. Balbuzanov, Ivan & Kotowski, Maciej H., 2017. "Endowments, Exclusion, and Exchange," Working Paper Series rwp17-016, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    13. Kojima, Fuhito & Manea, Mihai, 2010. "Incentives in the probabilistic serial mechanism," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(1), pages 106-123, January.
    14. Athanassoglou, Stergios, 2011. "Efficiency under a combination of ordinal and cardinal information on preferences," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 180-185, March.
    15. Christian Basteck, 2016. "Fair solutions to the random assignment problem," Working Papers 2016001, Berlin Doctoral Program in Economics and Management Science (BDPEMS).
    16. Alexander Nesterov, 2014. "Fairness and Efficiency in a Random Assignment: Three Impossibility Results," Working Papers 2014006, Berlin Doctoral Program in Economics and Management Science (BDPEMS).

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