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Top Trading with Fixed Tie-Breaking in Markets with Indivisible Goods


  • Lars Ehlers


We study markets with indivisible goods where monetary compensations are not possible. Each individual is endowed with an object and a preference relation over all objects. When preferences are strict, Gale's top trading cycle algorithm finds the unique core allocation. When preferences are not necessarily strict, we use an exogenous profile of tie-breakers to resolve any ties in individuals' preferences and apply Gale's top trading cycle algorithm for the resulting profile of strict preferences. We provide a foundation of these simple extensions of Gale's top trading cycle algorithm from strict preferences to weak preferences. We show that Gale's top trading cycle algorithm with fixed tie-breaking is characterized by individual rationality, strategy-proofness, weak efficiency, non-bossiness, and consistency. Our result supports the common practice in applications to break ties in weak preferences using some fixed exogenous criteria and then to use a "good and simple" rule for the resulting strict preferences. This reinforces the market-based approach even in the presence of indifferences because always competitive allocations are chosen.

Suggested Citation

  • Lars Ehlers, 2012. "Top Trading with Fixed Tie-Breaking in Markets with Indivisible Goods," Cahiers de recherche 03-2012, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtl:montec:03-2012

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Tayfun Sonmez, 1998. "Random Serial Dictatorship and the Core from Random Endowments in House Allocation Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(3), pages 689-702, May.
    2. Bird, Charles G., 1984. "Group incentive compatibility in a market with indivisible goods," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 309-313.
    3. Ehlers, Lars, 2004. "Monotonic and implementable solutions in generalized matching problems," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 114(2), pages 358-369, February.
    4. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth, 2009. "Strategy-proofness versus Efficiency in Matching with Indifferences: Redesigning the New York City High School Match," NBER Working Papers 14864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Alcalde-Unzu, Jorge & Molis, Elena, 2011. "Exchange of indivisible goods and indifferences: The Top Trading Absorbing Sets mechanisms," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 1-16, September.
    6. Abdulkadiroglu, Atila & Sonmez, Tayfun, 1999. "House Allocation with Existing Tenants," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 233-260, October.
    7. Bogomolnaia, Anna & Deb, Rajat & Ehlers, Lars, 2005. "Strategy-proof assignment on the full preference domain," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 161-186, August.
    8. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth, 2009. "Strategy-Proofness versus Efficiency in Matching with Indifferences: Redesigning the NYC High School Match," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1954-1978, December.
    9. Crawford, Vincent P., 1991. "Comparative statics in matching markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 389-400, August.
    10. Ehlers, Lars, 2002. "Coalitional Strategy-Proof House Allocation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 298-317, August.
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    More about this item


    indivisible goods; top trading cycles; indifferences; fixed tie-breaking;

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General


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