Samuelson Machines and the Optimal Public-Private Mix
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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- 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.
- Todd Sandler & John Tschirhart, 1997.
"Club theory: Thirty years later,"
Springer, vol. 93(3), pages 335-355, December.
- 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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