Merit goods in a utilitarian framework
Merit goods are defined here as goods for which government interference with the aggregated willingness to pay increases utility. The paper argues that three cases exist where consideration for merit goods would lead to a Pareto improvement and where merit goods should therefore be reintegrated into the public economics framework. The state may be better informed about the conditions for the possibility of certain consumer wants. In cases of multiple preference orders within one person, the state may need to play a role if market preferences and reflective preferences are to converge. And the state may be needed to internalize psychological externalities. The inclusion of the merit goods concept may explain how some policies, like schooling policy, may increase overall well-being, whereas the classical public economics framework is unable to do so.
Volume (Year): 18 (2006)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
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