Economists typically assign prices to guide the allocation of scarce resources. However, prices are not the only means of rationing. Other methods of allocation include non-price rationing and priority queues. Non-price rationing is a system in which goods or services are allocated based on criteria other than price, such as need or entitlement. Priority queues refer to the process by which some may have access to a good or service before others do. During the COVID-19 pandemic most countries opted for a priority system. Vaccines were allocated first to those most at risk, followed by front-line workers and then the general public. Recent research developed by economists allows designers to consider both ethical and equity concerns as well as externalities when allocating scarce resources. This research proposes that a priority system with rationing should coexist with a pricing scheme. Such an approach could ensure fair access to goods and services, while also providing incentives for efficient allocation.
Research referred to in brief: here
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