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Fairness and efficiency in a random assignment: three impossibility results

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Nesterov, Alexander S.

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Corporate Editor Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung gGmbH
Abstract This paper considers the problem of allocating N indivisible objects among N agents according to their preferences when transfers are not allowed, and studies the tradeoff between fairness and efficiency in the class of strategy-proof mechanisms. The main finding is that for strategy-proof mechanisms the following efficiency and fairness criteria are mutually incompatible: (1) Ex-post efficiency and envy-freeness, (2) ordinal efficiency and weak envy-freeness and (3) ordinal efficiency and equal division lower bound. Result (1) is the first impossibility result for this setting that uses ex-post efficiency; results (2) and (3) are more relevant for practical implementation than similar results in the literature. In addition, for N = 3 the paper strengthens the characterization result by Bogomolnaia and Moulin (2001): the random serial dictatorship mechanism is the unique strategy-proof, ex-post efficient mechanism that eliminates strict envy between agents with the same preferences. (author's abstract)
Keywords envy; behavior; random sample; strategy
Classification Social Psychology
Document language English
Publication Year 2014
City Berlin
Page/Pages 26 p.
Series Discussion Papers / Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, Forschungsschwerpunkt Markt und Entscheidung, Abteilung Verhalten auf Märkten, SP II 2014-211
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications