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Market and Non-Market Mechanisms for the Optimal Allocation of Scarce Resources

  • Daniele Condorelli

Both market (e.g. auctions) and non-market mechanisms (e.g. lotteries and priority lists) are used to allocate a large amount of scarce public resources that produce large private benefits and small consumption externalities. I study a model in which the use of both market and non-market mechanisms can be rationalized. Agents are risk neutral and heterogeneous in terms of their monetary value for a good and their opportunity cost of money, which are both private information. The designer wants to allocate a set of identical goods to the agents with the highest values. To achieve her goal, she can screen agents on the basis of their observable characteristics, and on the basis of information on their willingness to pay that she can extract using market mechanisms. In contrast to models where willingness to pay and value coincide, a first best cannot be achieved. My main result is that both market and non-market mechanisms, or hybrid mechanisms, can be optimal depending on the prior information available to the designer. In particular, non-market mechanisms may be optimal if the value is positively correlated with the opportunity cost of money.

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Paper provided by Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science in its series Discussion Papers with number 1483.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1483
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  1. McAfee, R. Preston & McMillan, John, 1988. "Multidimensional incentive compatibility and mechanism design," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 335-354, December.
  2. Paul Klemperer, 2004. "Auctions: Theory and Practice," Online economics textbooks, SUNY-Oswego, Department of Economics, number auction1, September.
  3. William Vickrey, 1961. "Counterspeculation, Auctions, And Competitive Sealed Tenders," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 16(1), pages 8-37, 03.
  4. Fernandez, Raquel & Gali, Jordi, 1997. "To Each According to ...?: Markets, Tournaments, and The Matching Problem with Borrowing Constraints," Working Papers 97-11, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  5. Armstrong, Mark, 1996. "Multiproduct Nonlinear Pricing," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(1), pages 51-75, January.
  6. Zheng, Charles Z., 2001. "High Bids and Broke Winners," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 100(1), pages 129-171, September.
  7. Roth, Alvin, 2007. "Repugnance as a Constraint on Markets," Scholarly Articles 2624677, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Roth, Alvin E. & Sotomayor, Marilda, 1992. "Two-sided matching," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, in: R.J. Aumann & S. Hart (ed.), Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 16, pages 485-541 Elsevier.
  9. Riley, John G & Samuelson, William F, 1981. "Optimal Auctions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 381-92, June.
  10. Daniele Condorelli, 2009. "What money can't buy: allocations with priority lists, lotteries and queues," Discussion Papers 1482, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  11. Jehiel, Phillipe & Moldovanu, Benny, 1999. "Efficient Design with Interdependent Valuations," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 99-74, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  12. Roger B. Myerson, 1988. "Mechanism Design," Discussion Papers 796, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  13. Evans, Mary F. & Vossler, Christian A. & Flores, Nicholas E., 2009. "Hybrid allocation mechanisms for publicly provided goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 311-325, February.
  14. Zheng, Charles Zhoucheng, 2002. "Optimal Auction with Resale," Staff General Research Papers 12664, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  15. Che, Yeon-Koo & Gale, Ian, 1998. "Standard Auctions with Financially Constrained Bidders," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(1), pages 1-21, January.
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