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Financing Public Goods by Means of Lotteries


  • John Morgan


When viewed as taxes, lotteries are routinely criticized as being both inequitable and inefficient. But is this an entirely fair comparison? Frequently lotteries are used in lieu of voluntary contributions by private charities and governments when taxes are not feasible. When heterogeneous individuals with quasi-linear preferences participate in lotteries whose proceeds will be used to fund a public good, we find that, relative to voluntary contributions, wagers in the unique lottery equilibrium (a) increase the provision of the public good, (b) are welfare improving, and (c) provide levels of the public good close to first-best as the lottery prize increases.

Suggested Citation

  • John Morgan, 2000. "Financing Public Goods by Means of Lotteries," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 761-784.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:67:y:2000:i:4:p:761-784.

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Roland Bénabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 11-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-298, April.
    3. Philippe Aghion & Patrick Bolton, 1997. "A Theory of Trickle-Down Growth and Development," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(2), pages 151-172.
    4. Thomas Piketty, 1997. "The Dynamics of the Wealth Distribution and the Interest Rate with Credit Rationing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(2), pages 173-189.
    5. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1989. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 14-31, March.
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