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Equality of opportunity and optimal cash and in-kind policies

  • Gasparini, Leonardo C.
  • Pinto, Santiago M.

This paper examines the argument for public provision of certain private goods, like education and health, based on equality of opportunity by studying the utility possibility frontier of a society in which there is a concern for the distribution of these goods. A given quality of education or health services can be consumed for free in the public sector, but people can opt-out and purchase their desired quality levels in the private sector. Some of the conclusions are: (i) a pure cash transfer is optimal when the utility redistribution is either “sufficiently” small or large; (ii) if and only if both the equality-of-opportunity concern and the utility redistribution are large enough, can an in-kind program which attracts the whole population be justified; (iii) even when everybody chooses the in-kind program, it may be optimal to perform some additional utility redistribution by increasing the size of such program.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 90 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1-2 (January)
Pages: 143-169

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:90:y:2006:i:1-2:p:143-169
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Pinto, Santiago M., 2004. "Assistance to poor households when income is not observed: targeted in-kind and in-cash transfers," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 536-553, November.
  2. James M. Poterba, 1996. "Government Intervention in the Markets for Education and Health Care: How and Why?," NBER Chapters, in: Individual and Social Responsibility: Child Care, Education, Medical Care, and Long-Term Care in America, pages 277-308 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Coate, Stephen, 1995. "Altruism, the Samaritan's Dilemma, and Government Transfer Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 46-57, March.
  4. Besley, Timothy, 1988. "A simple model for merit good arguments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 371-383, April.
  5. Blomquist, S. & Christiansen, V., 1998. "The Political Economy of Publicly Provided Private Goods," Papers 1998-14, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  6. Gouveia, Miguel, 1997. " Majority Rule and the Public Provision of a Private Good," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 93(3-4), pages 221-44, December.
  7. Sandmo, Agnar, 1983. "Ex Post Welfare Economics and the Theory of Merit Goods," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 50(197), pages 19-33, February.
  8. Leonardo Gasparini & Santiago Pinto, 2005. "Equality of Opportunity and Optimal Cash and In-Kind Policies," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0022, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
  9. Barr, Nicholas, 1992. "Economic Theory and the Welfare State: A Survey and Interpretation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 741-803, June.
  10. Ganderton, Philip T., 1992. "The effect of subsidies in kind on the choice of a college," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 269-292, August.
  11. Neil Bruce & Michael Waldman, 1988. "Transfers in Kind: Why They Can Be Efficient and Non-Paternalistic," UCLA Economics Working Papers 532, UCLA Department of Economics.
  12. Nichols, Albert L & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1982. "Targeting Transfers through Restrictions on Recipients," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(2), pages 372-77, May.
  13. Besley, T. & Coate, S., 1989. "Public Provision Of Private Goods And The Redistribution Of Income," Papers 36, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
  14. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E, 1996. "Public Provision of Private Goods," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(1), pages 57-84, February.
  15. Peltzman, Sam, 1973. "The Effect of Government Subsidies-in-Kind on Private Expenditures: The Case of Higher Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(1), pages 1-27, Jan.-Feb..
  16. 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.
  17. Blomquist, Soren & Christiansen, Vidar, 1998. "Topping Up or Opting Out? The Optimal Design of Public Provision Schemes," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(2), pages 399-411, May.
  18. Boadway, R. & Marchand, M., . "The use of public expenditures for redistributive purposes," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1131, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  19. Garfinkel, Irwin, 1973. "Is In-Kind Redistribution Efficient?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 320-30, May.
  20. 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 547-67, December.
  21. 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.
  22. Archibald, G. C. & Donaldson, David, 1979. "Notes on economic equality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 205-214, October.
  23. Tobin, James, 1970. "On Limiting the Domain of Inequality," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 263-77, October.
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