Rationing is commonly understood as the allocation of a fixed allowance of a commodity such as food, clothing, or fuel to consumers by their government during times of war or shortage, although economists use the term as a synonym for resource allocation. The popular notion is closely associated with civilian experiences during World War I (1914–1918) and World War II (1939–1945) when war induced shortages forced belligerent and neutral states to ration essential and semiessential consumer goods. Although the methods employed closely resemble those used to distribute famine or disaster relief, rationing implies that the community coping with shortages, and not an external agency or authority, organizes its own supplies and distributes them. Consumer rationing has two purposes: the equitable distribution of scarce goods ...

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