Collaborative Research: Dynamic Mechanisms without Transfers

Project: Research project

Project Details


Overview: In a variety of contexts, decisions must be made without money changing hands—allocating public housing, green cards, scarce medical resources, students to courses, employees to tasks, legislators to committees, etc. Finding simple rules that are efficient (Pareto optimal) is a difficult but important economic problem. One central feature of the problem is that preferences are usually private information, leading to strategic behavior. Another is that these decisions are dynamic: they might be repeated over time, or delayed. Our goal is to study whether and how time can replace money as a way to improve decision-making. Intellectual Merit : This projects has three goals: from a prescriptive point of view, to derive the optimal (incentive-compatible) mechanism and to find "simple" rules (protocols, algorithms) that provide an indirect implementation of these mechanisms; from a descriptive point of view, to understand what decision pattern, in particular, long-run outcomes result from such mechanisms. Finally, methodologically, to derive tools to analyze such environments, as standard techniques heavily rely on quasilinear preferences in their approach to solving them. Broader Impacts : There are clear policy implications: first, deriving simple rules that can be implemented by, say, nurses when deciding how to allocate their time between patients who call for attention, has important real-world consequences. Second, while we take the absence of money as a given, measuring how much more effective money would be should inform the debate about whether and when introducing money is desirable in these environments. Third, understanding what long-run outcomes result from such rules is also an important element for an informed discussion about the usefulness of money.
Effective start/end date9/1/158/31/19


  • National Science Foundation (SES-1530608   )


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