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Topping Up or Opting Out? The Optimal Design of Public Provision Schemes

  • Blomquist, Soren
  • Christiansen, Vidar

There is extensive public provision of private goods in all developed countries. The public provision scheme is often designed so that individuals can opt out but not top up (supplement) the publicly provided quantity/quality. Using an optimal income tax/public provision model, the authors derive the respective conditions under which a public provision scheme should allow or forbid supplementing. Disregarding administrative costs, a system where individuals are not allowed to top up is optimal if the demand for the publicly provided good increases in the amount of leisure available, while a scheme allowing individuals to top up is warranted if the demand decreases with the amount of leisure. Copyright 1998 by Economics Department of the University of Pennsylvania and the Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association.

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Article provided by Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association in its journal International Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 39 (1998)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 399-411

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Handle: RePEc:ier:iecrev:v:39:y:1998:i:2:p:399-411
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  1. Bergstrom, T. & Blomquist, S., 1993. "The Political Economy of Subsidized Day Care," Papers 93-30, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  2. Besley, Timothy, 1991. " Welfare Improving User Charges for Publicly Provided Private Goods," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(4), pages 495-510.
  3. Guesnerie, Roger & Roberts, Kevin, 1984. "Effective Policy Tools and Quantity Controls," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 59-86, January.
  4. 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.
  5. Munro, Alistair, 1989. "In-kind transfers, cash grants and the supply of labour," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(8), pages 1597-1604, October.
  6. Robin Boadway & Michael Keen, 1991. "Public Goods, Self-Selection and Optimal Income Taxation," Working Papers 828, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  7. 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 979-84, September.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  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. 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.
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  13. Lundholm, M. & Ohlsson, H., 1995. "Wages for Women and Publicly Financed Day Care," Papers 1995-23, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
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