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Samuelson Machines and the Optimal Public-Private Mix

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  • Simon Clark

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  • Ravi Kanbur

Abstract

Standard economic analysis assumes the sets of public and private goods to be exogenously given. Yet societies very often choose the public-private mix, using resources to convert seemingly private goods into ones with public goods characteristics and vice versa. And, in practice, we see a bewilderingly large variety of public-private mixes across societies. This papers advances an analysis of the choice of the public-private mix in the framework of voluntary contributions to public goods provision, by envisaging that, starting from a situation where all goods have private characteristics, some goods can be changed to have public goods characteristics at a cost (by purchasing a “Samuelson machine”). It characterizes the jointly optimal choice of the public-private mix and the efficient supply or not of the public goods in the mix. This characterization generates a number of testable predictions on the public-private mix, and on the prevalence of free riding.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh in its series ESE Discussion Papers with number 83.

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Length: 22
Date of creation: Mar 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:edn:esedps:83

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Keywords: Public goods; public-private mix; Samuelson machine; cost of publicness.;

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  1. Sandler, Todd & Tschirhart, John, 1997. "Club Theory: Thirty Years Later," Staff General Research Papers 1226, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  2. Keith Hartley & Todd Sandler, 2001. "Economics of Alliances: The Lessons for Collective Action," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(3), pages 869-896, September.
  3. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Dasgupta, Indraneel & Kanbur, Ravi, 2003. "Bridging Communal Divides: Separation, Patronage, Integration," Working Papers, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management 127235, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  2. Rob Moir, 2004. "Lotteries as a funding tool for financing public goods," CEEL Working Papers, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia 0401, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.

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