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The Welfare Costs of Rationing by Waiting


  • Deacon, Robert T
  • Sonstelie, Jon


With price controls and rationing by waiting, rational consumers increase the quantity bought per purchase. This individually rational response is socially wasteful and the cost of making it is a deadweight loss. This cost plus the value of time spent in queues may exceed the total rent transferred from suppliers to consumers by price controls, i.e., the value of resources spent competing for the rent may exceed the rent itself. This point is illustrated by an empirical application to gasoline price controls. Rent seeking exhausts an estimated 116 percent of the rent transferred. Copyright 1989 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Deacon, Robert T & Sonstelie, Jon, 1989. "The Welfare Costs of Rationing by Waiting," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 27(2), pages 179-196, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:27:y:1989:i:2:p:179-96

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hodrick, Robert J. & Srivastava, Sanjay, 1984. "An investigation of risk and return in forward foreign exchange," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 5-29, April.
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    9. Fama, Eugene F., 1984. "Forward and spot exchange rates," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 319-338, November.
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    14. Korajczyk, Robert A, 1985. "The Pricing of Forward Contracts for Foreign Exchange," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(2), pages 346-368, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fleck, Robert K., 2014. "Can prohibitions on “price gouging” reduce deadweight losses?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 100-107.
    2. Maria Arbatskaya & Kaushik Mukhopadhaya & Eric Rasmusen, 2001. "The Parking Lot Problem," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-119, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
      • Maria Arbatskaya & Kaushik Mukhopadhaya & Eric Rasmusen, 2007. "The Parking Lot Problem," Working Papers 2007-04, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
    3. Edward L. Glaeser, 1996. "The Social Costs of Rent Control Revisited," NBER Working Papers 5441, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Luttmer Erzo F.P., 2007. "Does the Minimum Wage Cause Inefficient Rationing?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-42, October.
    5. Besley, Timothy & Hall, John & Preston, Ian, 1999. "The demand for private health insurance: do waiting lists matter?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 155-181, May.
    6. Akbar Marvasti, 2006. "A Contingent Valuation of Customer Delay in Medical Services," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 32(1), pages 31-45, Winter.
    7. Lui, Hon-Kwong & Suen, Wing, 2011. "The effects of public housing on internal mobility in Hong Kong," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 15-29, March.
    8. Edward L. Glaeser & Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2003. "The Misallocation of Housing Under Rent Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1027-1046, September.
    9. Mireia Jofre-Bonet, 2000. "Public health care and private insurance demand: The waiting time as a link," Health Care Management Science, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 51-71, January.
    10. Parry, Ian, 2001. "On the Efficiency of Public and Private Health Care Systems: An Application to Alternative Health Policies in the United Kingdom," Discussion Papers dp-01-07, Resources For the Future.
    11. Debra Moore Patterson, 1996. "Reform in Eastern Europe: A General Equilibrium Model with Distortions in Relative Prices and Factor Markets," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(2), pages 457-472, May.
    12. repec:eee:pubeco:v:153:y:2017:i:c:p:56-68 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Van Ommeren, Jos N. & Van der Vlist, Arno J., 2016. "Households' willingness to pay for public housing," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 91-105.
    14. Aart Gerritsen, 2016. "How Many Harberger Triangles Does it Take to Fill one Okun Gap?," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2016-05, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
    15. Batabyal, Amitrajeet A. & DeAngelo, Gregory J., 2012. "Goods allocation by queuing and the occurrence of violence: A probabilistic analysis," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 1-7.
    16. Buschena, David E. & Anderson, Terry L. & Leonard, Jerry L., 2001. "Valuing Non-Marketed Goods: The Case of Elk Permit Lotteries," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 33-43, January.

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