Modeling Access Differences to Reduce Disparity in Resource Allocation

Kenya Andrews, Mesrob Ohannessian, Tanya Berger-Wolf
Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence (cs.AI)
2024-01-31 00:00:00
Motivated by COVID-19 vaccine allocation, where vulnerable subpopulations are simultaneously more impacted in terms of health and more disadvantaged in terms of access to the vaccine, we formalize and study the problem of resource allocation when there are inherent access differences that correlate with advantage and disadvantage. We identify reducing resource disparity as a key goal in this context and show its role as a proxy to more nuanced downstream impacts. We develop a concrete access model that helps quantify how a given allocation translates to resource flow for the advantaged vs. the disadvantaged, based on the access gap between them. We then provide a methodology for access-aware allocation. Intuitively, the resulting allocation leverages more vaccines in locations with higher vulnerable populations to mitigate the access gap and reduce overall disparity. Surprisingly, knowledge of the access gap is often not needed to perform access-aware allocation. To support this formalism, we provide empirical evidence for our access model and show that access-aware allocation can significantly reduce resource disparity and thus improve downstream outcomes. We demonstrate this at various scales, including at county, state, national, and global levels.
PDF: Modeling Access Differences to Reduce Disparity in Resource Allocation.pdf
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