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A reconsideration of the problem of social cost: free riders and monopolists

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  • V. V. Chari
  • Larry E. Jones

Abstract

We examine the validity of one version of the Coase Theorem: In any economy in which property rights are fully allocated, competition will lead to efficient allocations. This version of the theorem implies that the public goods problem can be solved by allocating property rights fully and letting markets do their work. We show that this mechanism is not likely to work well in economies with either pure public goods or global externalities. The reason is that the privatized economy turns out to be highly susceptible to strategic behavior in that the free-rider problem in public goods economies manifests itself as a complementary monopoly problem in the private goods economy. If the public goods or externalities are local in nature, however, market mechanisms are likely to work well. ; Our work is related to the recent literature on the foundations of Walrasian equilibrium in that it highlights a relationship among the appropriateness of Walrasian equilibrium as a solution concept, the incentives for strategic play, the aggregate level of complementarities in the economy, and the problem of coordinating economic activity.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Staff Report with number 142.

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Date of creation: 1991
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:142

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Keywords: Economics;

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  1. Rob, R., 1988. "Pollution Claim Settlements Under Private Information," Papers 19-88, Tel Aviv.
  2. Milleron, Jean-Claude, 1972. "Theory of value with public goods: A survey article," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 419-477, December.
  3. Scotchmer, Suzanne, 1985. "Profit-maximizing clubs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 25-45, June.
  4. Starrett, David A., 1972. "Fundamental nonconvexities in the theory of externalities," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 180-199, April.
  5. Groves, Theodore & Ledyard, John O, 1977. "Optimal Allocation of Public Goods: A Solution to the "Free Rider" Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(4), pages 783-809, May.
  6. Mas-Colell, Andreu, 1975. "A model of equilibrium with differentiated commodities," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 263-295.
  7. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1982. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 97-109, January.
  8. Makowski, Louis, 1980. "A characterization of perfectly competitive economies with production," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 208-221, April.
  9. Wooders, Myrna Holtz, 1989. "A Tiebout theorem," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 33-55, August.
  10. Edward Green, 1982. "Equilibrium and efficiency under pure entitlement systems," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 185-212, January.
  11. Jones, Larry E., 1987. "The efficiency of monopolistically competitive equilibria in large economies: Commodity differentiation with gross substitutes," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 356-391, April.
  12. Roberts, John, 1976. "The incentives for correct revelation of preferences and the number of consumers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 359-374, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Gastón Llanes & Stefano Trento, 2010. "Patent Policy, Patent Pools, And The Accumulation Of Claims In Sequential Innovation," Working Papers 523, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  2. Alberto Bisin & Piero Gottardi, 2005. "Efficient Competitive Equilibria with Adverse Selection," CESifo Working Paper Series 1504, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Louis Makowski & Joseph M. Ostroy, 1991. "The Margin of Appropriation and an Extension of the First Theorem of Welfare Economists," UCLA Economics Working Papers 629, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. Wang, Long & Keith Murnighan, J., 2013. "The generalist bias," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 120(1), pages 47-61.
  5. John P. Conley & Stefani C. Smith, 2004. "Existence and Efficiency of a Price-Taking Equilibrium in an Economy with Public Goods, Externalities and Property Rights: A Coasian Approach," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0403, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics, revised Jan 2004.
  6. V.V. Chari & Harold Cole, 1993. "A contribution to the theory of pork barrel spending," Staff Report 156, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  7. Conley, John P. & Smith, Stefani C., 2005. "Coasian equilibrium," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 687-704, September.

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