lunduniversity.lu.se

Allocating resources

WHEN SUPPLY AND DEMAND IS NOT THE ANSWER

How do we allocate resources that we do not want to see priced by the free market in accordance with the law of supply and demand? It could be about human organs – or access to a place in school.

 

Mathematics is an unbeatable tool for matching resources with those who need them. Complex algorithms are able to weigh parameters, such as tissue types and blood groups, or requests from parents and schools. Combined with well-defined rules, transparent selection criteria, computerisation and automated processes, we can save lives, time and money and ensure that our resources end up where they are most needed to support the common good.

Saving lives, time and money

Professor of Economics Tommy Andersson works with transplant physicians and immunologists from four Swedish hospitals. In addition, discussions are currently taking place with Norway and Denmark about also including these countries in the large scheme in which transplantation opportunities are to be optimised.

“We are on the verge of using the system of matching algorithms at all current Swedish transplant centres”, says Tommy Andersson.

Preventing school segregation

The mathematical algorithms can also be used to allocate public housing, or places in schools. Here you can choose to include a number of parameters in the calculation, such as the parents’ wishes and society’s requirements to prevent an increase in school segregation.

“Poorly designed admission rules and principles can lead to parents starting to manipulate the outcome of the admissions process through false ranking of schools to ensure that their children receive a better placement. This generally benefits well-educated groups in society”, says Tommy Andersson.