What Is Allocational Efficiency?

Allocational efficiency (also known as allocative efficiency) is a characteristic of an efficient market in which capital is allocated in a way that is most beneficial to the parties involved. Allocational efficiency represents an optimal distribution of goods and services to consumers in an economy. It also represents an optimal distribution of financial capital to firms or projects among investors.

Key Takeaways

  • Allocational, or allocative, efficiency is a property of an efficient market whereby all goods and services are optimally distributed among buyers in an economy.
  • In economics, the point of allocational efficiency for a product or service occurs at the price and quantity defined by the intersection of the supply curve and the demand curve.
  • Allocational efficiency only holds if markets themselves are efficient in general, including informationally and transactionally.

Understanding Allocational Efficiency

Under allocational efficiency, all goods, services, and capital is allocated and distributed to its very best use. By definition, efficiency means that capital is put to its optimal use and that there is no other distribution of capital that exists which would produce better outcomes.

Allocational efficiency occurs when parties are able to use the accurate and readily available data reflected in the market to make decisions about how to allocate their resources. When all of the data affecting a market is available for use in decisions, companies can make accurate decisions about what projects might be most profitable and manufacturers can allocate resources to producing products that are most desired by the general population. Allocational efficiency occurs when organizations in public and private sectors spend their resources on projects that will be the most profitable and do the most good for the population, thereby promoting economic growth.

In economics, allocative efficiency occurs at the intersection of the supply and demand curves. At this equilibrium point, the price offered for a given supply exactly matches the demand for that supply at that price, and so all products are sold.

Supply and Demand Model
Dallas.Epperson/CC BY-SA 3.0/Creative Commons

Efficient Markets and Allocation

In order to be allocationally efficient, a market must be efficient overall. An efficient market is one in which all pertinent data regarding the market and its activities is readily available to all market participants and is always reflected in market prices.In order for a market to be efficient, it must meet the prerequisites of being both informationally efficient and transactionally or operationally efficient. When a market is informationally efficient, all necessary and pertinent information about the market is readily available to all parties involved in the market. No parties have an informational advantage over any other parties.

When a market is transactionally efficient, all transaction costs are reasonable and fair, making all transactions equally executable by all parties. No transaction is prohibitively expensive for any party. If these conditions of fairness are met and the market is efficient, capital flows will direct themselves to the places where they will be the most effective, providing an optimal risk/reward scenario for investors.