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Optimal Provision of Public Goods: A Synthesis

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  • Claus Thustrup Kreiner
  • Nicolaj Verdelin

Abstract

There currently exist two competing approaches in the literature on the optimal provision of public goods. The standard approach highlights the importance of distortionary taxation and distributional concerns. The new approach neutralizes distributional concerns by adjusting the non-linear income tax, and finds that this reinvigorates the simple Samuelson rule when preferences are separable in goods and leisure. We provide a synthesis by demonstrating that both approaches derive from the same basic formula. We further develop the new approach by deriving a general, intuitive formula for the optimal level of a public good without imposing strong assumptions on preferences. This formula shows that distortionary taxation may have a role to play as in the standard approach. However, the main determinants of optimal provision are completely different and the traditional formula with its emphasis on MCF only obtains in a very special case.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2009/wp-cesifo-2009-02/cesifo1_wp2538.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2538.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2538

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Keywords: public good provision; distortionary taxation; distribution;

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References

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  1. Lawrence H. Goulder & Ian W. H. Parry & Roberton C. Williams III, 2005. "Evaluating Public Goods and Regulations: Comments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 233-233, Fall.
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Cited by:
  1. Niehaus, Paul & Sukhtankar, Sandip, 2013. "The marginal rate of corruption in public programs: Evidence from India," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 52-64.

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