Public Provision of Private Goods and User Charges
This paper deals with the question whether uniform provision of a purely private good should be implemented at the social optimum, in a second best economy where personalised lump-sum transfers are not feasible, but no market failure exists. The answer is that it depends on the balance of private and social gains and losses from public provision: necessary conditions for the optimality of uniform provision are derived and discussed. The sensitivity of these conditions to changing rules for the choice of the user charge is also investigated, and it is suggested that public provision is most likely to be optimal when it is free of charge. Finally, it is emphasized that the assumption that a perfect substitute for the publicly provided good is not available plays a crucial role in obtaining the above results.
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