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Samuelson Machines and the Optimal Public-Private Mix

  • Simon Clark

    ()

  • Ravi Kanbur

Standard economic analysis assumes the sets of public and private goods to be exogenously given. Yet societies very often choose the public-private mix, using resources to convert seemingly private goods into ones with public goods characteristics and vice versa. And, in practice, we see a bewilderingly large variety of public-private mixes across societies. This papers advances an analysis of the choice of the public-private mix in the framework of voluntary contributions to public goods provision, by envisaging that, starting from a situation where all goods have private characteristics, some goods can be changed to have public goods characteristics at a cost (by purchasing a “Samuelson machine”). It characterizes the jointly optimal choice of the public-private mix and the efficient supply or not of the public goods in the mix. This characterization generates a number of testable predictions on the public-private mix, and on the prevalence of free riding.

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Paper provided by Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh in its series ESE Discussion Papers with number 83.

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Length: 22
Date of creation: Mar 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:edn:esedps:83
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  1. Sandler, Todd & Tschirhart, John, 1997. "Club Theory: Thirty Years Later," Staff General Research Papers 1226, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  2. 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.
  3. Keith Hartley & Todd Sandler, 2001. "Economics of Alliances: The Lessons for Collective Action," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(3), pages 869-896, September.
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