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The Important Thing is not (Always) Winning but Taking Part: Funding Public Goods with Contests

This paper considers a public good game with heterogeneous endowments and incomplete information affected by extreme free-riding. We overcome this problem through the implementation of a contest in which several prizes may be awarded. We identify a monotone equilibrium, in which the contribution is strictly increasing in the endowment. We prove that it is optimal for the social planner to set the last prize equal to zero, but otherwise total expected contribution is invariant to the prize structure. Finally, we show that private provision via a contest Pareto-dominates public provision and is higher than the total contribution raised through a lottery.

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Paper provided by Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh in its series ESE Discussion Papers with number 156.

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Length: 19
Date of creation: 28 Mar 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:edn:esedps:156
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  1. Lucca Corazzini & Marco Faravelli & Lucca Stanca, 2007. "A Prize to Give for: An Experiment on Public Good Funding Mechanisms," ESE Discussion Papers 159, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  2. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Baye, M.R. & Kovenock, D. & De Vries, C.G., 1991. "The All-Pay Auction With Complete Information," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1007, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  4. Ellingsen, Tore, 1991. "Strategic Buyers and the Social Cost of Monopoly," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 648-57, June.
  5. Taylor, Curtis R, 1995. "Digging for Golden Carrots: An Analysis of Research Tournaments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 872-90, September.
  6. Groves, Theodore & Ledyard, John O, 1977. "Optimal Allocation of Public Goods: A Solution to the "Free Rider" Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(4), pages 783-809, May.
  7. Morgan, John, 2000. "Financing Public Goods by Means of Lotteries," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(4), pages 761-84, October.
  8. Richard L. Fullerton & R. Preston McAfee, 1999. "Auctioning Entry into Tournaments," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 573-605, June.
  9. Arthur J.H.C. Schram & Sander Onderstal, 2009. "Bidding To Give: An Experimental Comparison Of Auctions For Charity," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(2), pages 431-457, 05.
  10. Jacob K. Goeree & Emiel Maasland & Sander Onderstal & John L. Turner, 2005. "How (Not) to Raise Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(4), pages 897-926, August.
  11. Baye, Michael R & Kovenock, Dan & de Vries, Casper G, 1993. "Rigging the Lobbying Process: An Application of the All-Pay Auction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 289-94, March.
  12. Barut, Yasar & Kovenock, Dan, 1998. "The symmetric multiple prize all-pay auction with complete information," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 627-644, November.
  13. Arye L. Hillman & John G. Riley, 1989. "Politically Contestable Rents And Transfers," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(1), pages 17-39, 03.
  14. Morgan, John & Sefton, Martin, 2000. "Funding Public Goods with Lotteries: Experimental Evidence," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(4), pages 785-810, October.
  15. Henrik Orzen, 2008. "Fundraising through Competition: Evidence from the Lab," Discussion Papers 2008-11, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  16. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela, 2001. "The Optimal Allocation of Prizes in Contests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 542-558, June.
  17. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
  18. Arye Hillman & Dov Samet, 1987. "Dissipation of contestable rents by small numbers of contenders," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 54(1), pages 63-82, January.
  19. Broecker, Thorsten, 1990. "Credit-Worthiness Tests and Interbank Competition," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(2), pages 429-52, March.
  20. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Privately provided public goods in a large economy: The limits of altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 57-73, February.
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