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User Charges as Redistributive Devices


  • Balestrino, Alessandro


In this model, a mix of public and private provision of private goods arises naturally in the economy. We characterize the social optimum in the presence of a linear tax/public expenditure system and show how a user charge can be welfare- or Pareto-improving, when the users are the poor. The charge discourages the rich from opting into the public program and allows the policymaker to restructure the tax/expenditure system in a way that is beneficial for the poor. If the ensuing welfare gain is large enough to outweigh the loss for the remaining users, a charge is desirable. Copyright 1999 by Blackwell Publishing Inc.

Suggested Citation

  • Balestrino, Alessandro, 1999. " User Charges as Redistributive Devices," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 1(4), pages 511-524.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jpbect:v:1:y:1999:i:4:p:511-24

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Munro, Alistair, 1992. "Self-Selection and Optimal In-Sind Transfers," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(414), pages 1184-1196, September.
    2. Ireland, Norman J., 1990. "The mix of social and private provision of goods and services," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 201-219, November.
    3. Balestrino, Alessandro, 1999. " The Desirability of In-Kind Transfers in the Presence of Distortionary Taxes," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(4), pages 333-354, September.
    4. Alessandro BALESTRINO, 1995. "Public Provision of Private Goods and User Charges," Discussion Papers (REL - Recherches Economiques de Louvain) 1995043, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    5. Boadway, Robin & Marchand, Maurice, 1995. "The Use of Public Expenditures for Redistributive Purposes," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 45-59, January.
    6. Besley, Timothy, 1991. " Welfare Improving User Charges for Publicly Provided Private Goods," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(4), pages 495-510.
    7. Neary, J. P. & Roberts, K. W. S., 1980. "The theory of household behaviour under rationing," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 25-42, January.
    8. Guesnerie, Roger & Roberts, Kevin, 1984. "Effective Policy Tools and Quantity Controls," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 59-86, January.
    9. Anderberg, Dan, 1999. "Determining the mix of public and private provision of insurance by majority rule," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 417-440, September.
    10. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1988. "Cash versus Kind, Self-selection, and Efficient Transfers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 691-700, September.
    11. Gahvari, Firouz, 1995. "In-Kind versus Cash Transfers in the Presence of Distortionary Taxes," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(1), pages 45-53, January.
    12. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 1997. "In-kind transfers, self-selection and optimal tax policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 97-114, January.
    13. Blomquist, Suren & Christiansen, Vidar, 1995. " Public Provision of Private Goods as a Redistributive Device in an Optimum Income Tax Model," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 547-567, December.
    14. Boadway, R. & Marchand, M., 1990. "The use of public expenditures for distributive purposes," CORE Discussion Papers 1990066, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    15. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1991. "Public Provision of Private Goods and the Redistribution of Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 979-984, September.
    16. Munro, Alistair, 1991. "The optimal public provision of private goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 239-261, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bhattacharya, Sukanta & Saha, Sarani & Banerjee, Sarmila, 2016. "Income inequality and the quality of public services: A developing country perspective," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 1-17.
    2. Fabbri, Daniele & Monfardini, Chiara, 2009. "Rationing the public provision of healthcare in the presence of private supplements: Evidence from the Italian NHS," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 290-304, March.
    3. Alessandro Balestrino, 2000. "Mixed Tax Systems and the Public Provision of Private Goods," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 7(4), pages 463-478, August.
    4. ., 2013. "Using market mechanisms (for example, contracting out) for the efficient public provision of commodities," Chapters,in: Competition, Diversity and Economic Performance, chapter 12, pages 233-252 Edward Elgar Publishing.

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