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À la recherche des biens sous tutelle

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  • Clément, Valérie

    () (LAMETA, Université Montpellier 1)

  • Moureau, Nathalie

    () (LAMETA, Université Montpellier 1)

  • Vidal, Marion

    () (LARA/ICD, LAMETA)

Abstract

Musgrave’s so-called merit goods, introduced in 1957, intend to deal with situations where the social weight or concern of a good differs from the information given by individual preferences. Merit goods are often referred to as a case for government intervention in education, health care or biodiversity protection policies. But theoretical roots of this concept seem a bit fuzzy and are, at best, very controversial. To put it crudely, what –if anything– can justify that government choices rule out individual choices? The paper deals with this issue. What role do merit goods play in economic theory? The first part of the paper defines the concept of merit goods and emphasizes the theoretical issues at stake. Afterward, we show how recent developments in economic theory, especially behavorial economics, provide a useful framework for the recognition of the concept, both as for individual decision making theory as for social choice. Résumé : La notion de biens sous tutelle (merit goods) introduite par Musgrave en 1957 définit des biens pour lesquels l’évaluation sociale ne provient pas uniquement des informations fournies par les préférences individuelles. L’utilisation d’un argument de type biens sous tutelle pour justifier l’intervention de l’État est très fréquente dans le domaine culturel, la santé, la protection de la biodiversité, etc. Pour autant, la légitimité économique de cet argument demeure controversée : qu’est-ce qui peut justifier que l’État s’érige en tuteur des préférences des individus? L’objet de cet article est de clarifier la place occupée par les biens sous tutelle en économie du bien-être. La première partie définit le concept et présente les problèmes qu’il pose à la théorie économique. Par la suite, nous montrons comment certaines extensions de la théorie, en particulier les avancées proposées par l’économie comportementale, contribuent à asseoir sa légitimité économique tant du point de vue des préférences individuelles que du choix social.

Suggested Citation

  • Clément, Valérie & Moureau, Nathalie & Vidal, Marion, 2009. "À la recherche des biens sous tutelle," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 85(4), pages 383-401, décembre.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:actuec:0024
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