Strategic Behavior and Social Outcomes in a Bottleneck Queue: Experimental Evidence

Jesper Breinbjerg, Alexander Sebald*, Lars Peter Østerdal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


We theoretically and experimentally study the differential incentive effects of three well known queue disciplines in a strategic environment in which a bottleneck facility opens and impatient players decide when to arrive. For a class of three-player games, we derive equilibrium arrivals under the first-in-first-out (FIFO), last-in-first-out (LIFO), and service-in-random-order (SIRO) queue disciplines and compare these predictions to outcomes from a laboratory experiment. In line with our theoretical predictions, we find that people arrive with greater dispersion when participating under the LIFO discipline, whereas they tend to arrive immediately under FIFO and SIRO. As a consequence, shorter waiting times are obtained under LIFO as compared to FIFO and SIRO. However, while our theoretical predictions admit higher welfare under LIFO, this is not recovered experimentally as the queue disciplines provide similar welfare outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReview of Economic Design
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)207–236
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Queue disciplines
  • Congestion
  • Equilibrium
  • Experiments
  • Fairness

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