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Toilet Cleaning and Department Chairing: Volunteering a Public service


Author Info

  • Marc Bilodeau

    (Dept d'Economique, U de Sherbrooke)

  • Al Slivinski

    (Dept of Economics, U of Western Ontario)


Who will do a job that nobody wants but that someone has to do? The search for a volunteer is modelled as a war of attrition in which everyone is tempted to just wait for someone else to do it. We show that the volunteer will be, ceteris paribus, the individual for whom the benefit/cost ratio of performing the public service is the largest, the one most impatient to consume it, or the one who stands to benefit from it the longest.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Public Economics with number 9405001.

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Length: 8 pages
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Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:9405001

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  1. Hendricks, Ken & Weiss, Andrew & Wilson, Charles A, 1988. "The War of Attrition in Continuous Time with Complete Information," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 29(4), pages 663-80, November.
  2. Bliss, Christopher & Nalebuff, Barry, 1984. "Dragon-slaying and ballroom dancing: The private supply of a public good," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1-2), pages 1-12, November.
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Blog mentions

As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. A public finance vignette
    by Nick Rowe in Worthwhile Canadian Initiative on 2010-04-26 20:33:51
  2. Toilets and Chairs: What Do They Have in Common?
    by Phil Miller in Market Power on 2010-01-21 17:09:13
  3. The Economics of toilet cleaning
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2008-09-10 16:13:00
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