The Voluntary Provision Of Public Goods? The Turnpike Companies Of Early America
The heroic role of the agent called "government" in the simple public-goods model is clear enough, but the relevance of the model is still in dispute. A long history of doubters have challenged the premises that the government has the needed information, acts efficiently, and acts in the public interest. Also, doubters have contended that the free-rider problem of many public goods is not as ineluctable as others often seem to suggest. Historical studies have shown the potency of voluntary association in such fields as lighthouse provision [Coase 1974], education [Ellig & High 1988], bee pollination [Cheung, 1973], law and order [Anderson & Hill, 1979; Benson, forthcoming], neighborhood infrastructure [Beito, forthcoming], agricultural research [Majewski, 1989], among others [see Cowen, 1988; Wooldridgge, 1970]. To help weigh the relevance of the simple public-goods model I discuss the American experience of private turnpike roads. Extreme publicness marked the turnpikes, both in jointness of consumption and in nonexcludability. The excludability problem was partly the result of legal restrictions on toll collection. These restrictions caused in part turnpike unprofitability, which was discovered quickly. The turnpikes afforded enormous indirect and external benefits, however, to the nearby farms, landholdings, and businesses. Since unprofitability was usually foreseen, stock subscription -- necessary to construct the road -- was essentially a means of paying for road benefits. There were two excludability problems: people could use the road without paying a toll, and people could indirectly benefit from the road without buying stock. Though related, the latter is the crux of the public-goods problem at hand. The turnpike companies got started in the 1790s and were in sharp decline in the 1830s, though many turnpikes were operating at the turn of our century. I treat turnpikes in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland (the last four
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)
To our knowledge, this item is not available for
download. To find whether it is available, there are three
1. Check below under "Related research" whether another version of this item is available online.
2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.
|Date of creation:||1989|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Becker, Gary S, 1974.
"A Theory of Social Interactions,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-93, Nov.-Dec..
- Bohm, Peter, 1972. "Estimating demand for public goods: An experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 111-130.
- Marwell, Gerald & Ames, Ruth E., 1981. "Economists free ride, does anyone else? : Experiments on the provision of public goods, IV," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 295-310, June.
- Coase, R H, 1974. "The Lighthouse in Economics," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 357-76, October.
- Brubaker, Earl R, 1975. "Free Ride, Free Revelation, or Golden Rule?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(1), pages 147-61, April.
- Peter Bohm, 1972. "Estimating the demand for public goods: An experiment," Framed Field Experiments 00126, The Field Experiments Website.
- Dawes, Robyn M & Thaler, Richard H, 1988. "Anomalies: Cooperation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 187-97, Summer.
- Sugden, Robert, 1984. "Reciprocity: The Supply of Public Goods through Voluntary Contributions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376), pages 772-87, December.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fth:calirv:89-08. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Krichel)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.