The controlled allowance of goods, resources, and services in fixed allotments in times of scarcity or shortage is referred to as rationing. It is a common way of addressing the scarcity that may arise because of wars, natural disasters, or economic shocks. It can cover a variety of goods and services, such as food, fuel, water, credit, and health care. If it is mandatory, rationing may be controlled by authorities in the family, community, military, or federal or local governments. When voluntary, rationing is left to the discretion of individuals and is usually not very effective. Rationing inevitably affects the poor by limiting their access to goods and services to meet their basic needs, especially food.

In a market economy, scarcity or shortage arises when the ...

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