Praesidium

Monday, September 07, 2015

Queues, Fairness, and Efficiency

When a scarce good has to be allocated, 'first come, first served' is often considered a decent allocative principle. According to a recent study, however, this is inefficient because of the time wasted. Adopting the principle 'last-in, first-served' - provided everyone knows this - is more efficient, because people will stagger their arrival times.

The brief BBC report - here - also mentions the possibility of picking people from the 'queue' at random. I don't see a link in the report, but it seems to be based on 'The curse of first-in-first-out queue discipline', available as a working paper here, so it's an unpublished finding as far as I'm aware. I've not had chance to read the paper yet, but it sounds interesting.

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