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Equality of Opportunity and Optimal Cash and In-Kind Policies

  • Leonardo Gasparini


    (Centro de Estudios Distributivos, Laborales y Sociales (CEDLAS) - FCE - UNLP)

  • Santiago Pinto


    (Department of Economics, West Virginia University)

This paper examines the argument for public provision of certain private goods, like education and health, based on equality of opportunity by studying the utility possibility frontier of a society in which there is a concern for the distribution of these goods. A given quality of education or health services can be consumed for free in the public sector, but people can opt-out and purchase their desired quality levels in the private sector. Some of the conclusions are: (i) a pure cash transfer is optimal when the utility redistribution is either “sufficiently” small or large; (ii) if and only if both the equality-of-opportunity concern and the utility redistribution are large enough, can an in-kind program which attracts the whole population be justified; (iii) even when everybody chooses the in-kind program, it may be optimal to perform some additional utility redistribution by increasing the size of such program.

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Paper provided by CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata in its series CEDLAS, Working Papers with number 0022.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dls:wpaper:0022
Contact details of provider: Postal: Calle 48 No555 - La Plata (1900)
Phone: 21- 1466
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  1. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 1997. "In-kind transfers, self-selection and optimal tax policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 97-114, January.
  2. Bruce, Neil & Waldman, Michael, 1991. "Transfers in Kind: Why They Can Be Efficient and Nonpaternalistic," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1345-51, December.
  3. Gouveia, Miguel, 1997. " Majority Rule and the Public Provision of a Private Good," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 93(3-4), pages 221-44, December.
  4. Boadway, Robin & Marchand, Maurice, 1995. "The Use of Public Expenditures for Redistributive Purposes," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 45-59, January.
  5. Blomquist, Suren & Christiansen, Vidar, 1995. " Public Provision of Private Goods as a Redistributive Device in an Optimum Income Tax Model," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 97(4), pages 547-67, December.
  6. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E, 1996. "Public Provision of Private Goods," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(1), pages 57-84, February.
  7. Nichols, Albert L & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1982. "Targeting Transfers through Restrictions on Recipients," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(2), pages 372-77, May.
  8. Ganderton, Philip T., 1992. "The effect of subsidies in kind on the choice of a college," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 269-292, August.
  9. Barr, Nicholas, 1992. "Economic Theory and the Welfare State: A Survey and Interpretation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 741-803, June.
  10. Blomquist, S. & Christiansen, V., 1998. "The Political Economy of Publicly Provided Private Goods," Papers 1998-14, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  11. Besley, T. & Coate, S., 1989. "Public Provision Of Private Goods And The Redistribution Of Income," Papers 36, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
  12. Peltzman, Sam, 1973. "The Effect of Government Subsidies-in-Kind on Private Expenditures: The Case of Higher Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(1), pages 1-27, Jan.-Feb..
  13. Blomquist, Soren & Christiansen, Vidar, 1998. "Topping Up or Opting Out? The Optimal Design of Public Provision Schemes," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(2), pages 399-411, May.
  14. Leonardo Gasparini & Santiago Pinto, 2005. "Equality of Opportunity and Optimal Cash and In-Kind Policies," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0022, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
  15. Garfinkel, Irwin, 1973. "Is In-Kind Redistribution Efficient?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 320-30, May.
  16. Pinto, Santiago M., 2004. "Assistance to poor households when income is not observed: targeted in-kind and in-cash transfers," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 536-553, November.
  17. Archibald, G. C. & Donaldson, David, 1979. "Notes on economic equality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 205-214, October.
  18. James M. Poterba, 1994. "Government Intervention in the Markets for Education and Health Care: How and Why?," NBER Working Papers 4916, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Tobin, James, 1970. "On Limiting the Domain of Inequality," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 263-77, October.
  20. Besley, Timothy, 1988. "A simple model for merit good arguments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 371-383, April.
  21. Robin W. Boadway & Maurice Marchand, 1990. "The Use of Public Expenditure for Distributive Purpose," Working Papers 796, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  22. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1988. "Cash versus Kind, Self-selection, and Efficient Transfers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 691-700, September.
  23. Sandmo, Agnar, 1983. "Ex Post Welfare Economics and the Theory of Merit Goods," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 50(197), pages 19-33, February.
  24. Coate, Stephen, 1995. "Altruism, the Samaritan's Dilemma, and Government Transfer Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 46-57, March.
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