Influencing waiting lists

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1 Scopus citations


Stochastically arriving objects (e.g. transplant organs, public housing units) often are allocated via waiting lists exhibiting deferral rights: agents may decline offers, keeping their position in line. We consider the welfare implications of bestowing or constraining such rights, concluding that their desirability depends—in opposite ways—on agents' risk-aversion and impatience. Under risk-aversion, uninfluenced deferral rights typically enhance welfare. Under discounting some restrictions on deferral rights can benefit all agents joining the list. In a stylized “organ spoilage” model our results demonstrate that policy evaluations should not be based solely on throughput metrics (e.g. organ utilization rates) that ignore such preference characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105263
JournalJournal of Economic Theory
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Dynamic assignment
  • Queueing
  • Waiting lists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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