Differential Time and Money Pricing as a Mechanism for In-kind Redistribution
We propose a mechanism to implement the distributional goal of "specific egalitarianism", or that allocation of a good be independent of income, but increasing in relative strength of preference or need. Governments could offer the good at multiple "outlets" that charge different money and time prices. Individuals would self-select between outlets based on time opportunity cost. We show conditions under which differential pricing achieves specific egalitarianism more efficiently than uniform public provision funded from income tax, with or without optional private purchase. Differential pricing becomes more efficient than uniform provision as 1) the relative importance of the good rises, 2) the elasticity of substitution between goods falls, 3) variation in preferences increases and 4) income inequality rises or the proportion of the poor falls.
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