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Fall 2009
ISSN 0890-913X
Volume 25, Number 1

Queuing, Conflict, and Violence

Dwight R. Lee, The University of Georgia
Robert D. Tollison, Clemson University
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Queuing,Conflict,andViolenceTheJournalofPrivateEnterprise25(1),2009,51-68DwightR.LeeSouthernMethodistUniversityRobertD.TollisonClemsonUniversityAbstractQueuinginresponsetopricesbelowmarket-clearinglevelsincreasesthepotentialforconflictandviolenceamongconsumers.Weconsiderhowthepotentialforviolenceinqueuesvarieswithdifferencesindemandandsupplycharacteristicsofthegoodsbeingconsidered,andthecauseofsubmarket-clearingprices.Ingeneral,thepotentialforqueue-relatedconflictandviolenceisgreaterwhenthepriceelasticitiesofdemandandsupplyforthegoodaresmallerandhigher,respectively.Also,thepotentialforconflictandviolenceisgreaterwhenthequeueresultsfromgovernmentpolicythanwhenitresultsfromprivate-sectoractivity.JELCodes:A13,D00,D45Keywords:Conflict;Market-clearingprice;Priceelasticities;Queue;ViolenceI.IntroductionAseverystudentinaneconomicsprinciplesclasslearns,orshouldlearn,anytimethepriceofagoodiskeptbelowthemarketclearingprice,forwhateverreason,someformofnon-pricerationingcomesintoplay.Commonly,thisrationinginvolvesqueuing.Aswithallrationing,queuingmotivatescompetitionaspeopleacttoimprovetheirprospectsofacquiringtheamountofthegoodtheydesire.Andwithqueuingthecompetitioncommonlyinvolvespeoplewaitingincloseproximitytotheircompetitors.Generally,suchcompetitionispeaceableaspeopleabidebywidelyacceptedrulesofconduct,whichforbidpushing,shoving,orcuttinginline.Unfortunately,peaceablecompetitioncanbreakdownasfrustrationturnstoanimositytowardothersinthequeue.Inthispaperweconsiderthecircumstancesunderwhichthecompetitionofqueuingismostlikelytoturnviolent.Whilethereisawell-knownliteratureonrationingandrationingbywaiting(seeespeciallyBarzel,1974;LindsayandFiegenbaum,51
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