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Working paper

Minimal Envy and Popular Matchings

We study ex-post fairness in the object allocation problem where objects are valuable and commonly owned. A matching is fair from individual perspective if it has only inevitable envy towards agents who received most preferred objects -- minimal envy matching. A matching is fair from social perspective if it is supported by majority against any other matching -- popular matching. Surprisingly, the two perspectives give the same outcome: when a popular matching exists it is equivalent to a minimal envy matching. We show the equivalence between global and local popularity: a matching is popular if and only if there does not exist a group of size up to 3 agents that decides to exchange their objects by majority, keeping the remaining matching fixed. We algorithmically show that an arbitrary matching is path-connected to a popular matching where along the path groups of up to 3 agents exchange their objects by majority. A market where random groups exchange objects by majority converges to a popular matching given such matching exists. When popular matching might not exist we define most popular matching as a matching that is popular among the largest subset of agents. We show that each minimal envy matching is a most popular matching and propose a polynomial-time algorithm to find them.