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Market versus non-market assignment of initial ownership

Che, Yeon-Koo; Gale, Ian

We study the assignment of initial ownership of a good when agents differ in their ability to pay. Selling the good at the market-clearing price favors the wealthy in the sense that they may acquire the good instead of poor buyers who value it more highly. Non-market assignment schemes, even simple random rationing, may yield a more efficient allocation than the competitive market would - if recipients of the good are allowed to resell. Schemes that favor the poor are even more desirable in that context. The ability to resell the good is critical to the results, but allowing resale also invites speculation, which undermines its effectiveness. If the level of speculation is sufficiently high, restricting resale may be beneficial.

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Academic Units
Economics
Publisher
Department of Economics, Columbia University
Series
Department of Economics Discussion Papers, 0607-05
Published Here
March 28, 2011

Notes

November 2006