From weakest-link to best-shot: The voluntary provision of public goods
It has traditionally been assumed that the socially available amount X of a public good is the simple sum of the separate amounts x i produced by the i=1, ..., I members of the community. But there are many other possibilities of practical importance. Among them are: (i) Weakest-link rule, where the socially available amount is the minimum of the quantities individually provided, and (ii) Best-shot rule, where the socially available amount is the maximum of the individual quantities. The former tends to arise in linear situations, where each individual has a veto on the total to be provided (e.g., if each is responsible for one link of a chain); the latter tends to arise when there is a single prize of overwhelming importance for the community, with any individual's effort having a chance of securing the prize. In comparison with the standard Summation formula of ordinary public-good theory, it is shown that underprovision of the public good tends to considerably moderated when the Weakest-link function is applicable, but aggravated when the Best-shot function is applicable. In time of disaster, where the survival of the community may depend upon each person's doing his duty, the conditions for applicability of the Weakest-link rule are approximated. This circumstance explains the historical observation that disaster conditions tend to elicit an extraordinary amount of unselfish behavior. Copyright Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 1983
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- Jack Hirshleifer, 1978. "Natural Economy Versus Political Economy," UCLA Economics Working Papers 129, UCLA Department of Economics.
- John Chamberlin, 1976. "A diagrammatic exposition of the logic of collection action," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 59-74, June.
- Jack Hirshleifer, 1978. "Natural Economy Versus Political Economy," UCLA Economics Working Papers 114, UCLA Department of Economics.
- De Alessi, Louis, 1975. "Toward an Analysis of Postdisaster Cooperation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(1), pages 127-38, March.
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