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STICERD Economic Theory Seminars

Redistributive Allocation Mechanisms

Piotr Dworczak (Northwestern University), joint with Mohammad Akbarpour and Scott Duke Kominers

Thursday 24 February 2022 15:30 - 17:00

Many of our seminars and public events this year will continue as in person or as hybrid (online and in person) events. Please check our website listings and Twitter feed @STICERD_LSE for updates.

Unless otherwise specified, in-person seminars are open to the public.

Those unable to join the seminars in-person are welcome to participate via zoom if the event is hybrid.


About this event

Many scarce public resources are allocated at below-market-clearing prices, and sometimes for free. Such “non-market” mechanisms necessarily sacrifice some surplus, yet they can potentially improve equity. In this paper, we develop a model of mechanism design with redistributive concerns. Agents are characterized by a privately observed social welfare weight and willingness to pay for quality, as well as a publicly observed label. A market designer controls allocation and pricing of a set of objects of heterogeneous quality, and maximizes the expectation of a welfare function defined by the social welfare weights. We derive structural insights about the form of the optimal mechanism, leading to a framework for determining how and when to use non-market mechanisms. The key determinant is the strength of the statistical correlation of the unobserved social welfare weights with the label and the willingness to pay that the designer can, respectively, directly observe or elicit through the mechanism.

Economic Theory Seminars are held on Thursdays in term time at 15:30-17:00, ONLINE or ONLINE AND IN PERSON at the same time.

Seminar organisers: Dr Andrew Ellis and Dr Christopher Sandmann.

For further information please contact Annie-Rose Nicholas by email: a.nicholas1@lse.ac.uk.

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