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An Incomplete Contract Perspective on Public Good Provision

  • Martimort, David
  • De Donder, Philippe
  • de Villemeur, Étienne

This paper surveys what can be learned from recent advances in the incomplete contract literature to understand how public goods are or should be provided. The paper starts with a section on the full information case that presents and discusses the classical Samuelson condition on the optimal provision of public goods. The rest of the paper presents results under asymmetric information. It is constituted of two main parts. In the first one, the social planner has complete contracting ability. We discuss the basic setting and assumptions of this comprehensive contracting approach and study the trade-offs it generates. The second part of the paper is devoted to the study of contracting incompleteness. Such incompleteness can emerge from various sources, which we present and discuss. We then study the case of a politically chosen decision-maker and the consequences of its inability to commit for more than one period and of the ability for individuals to form groups. Finally, we address the problem of the choice between public and private forms of public good provision. The concluding section summarizes the main policy lessons. Copyright Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 2005.

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Paper provided by Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse in its series IDEI Working Papers with number 212.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Publication status: Published in Journal of Economic Surveys, vol.�19, n°2, avril 2005, p.�149-180.
Handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:603
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  1. Schmidt, Klaus M., 1996. "The costs and benefits of privatization: An incomplete contracts approach," Munich Reprints in Economics 19773, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. Martimort, David, 1999. "Renegotiation Design with Multiple Regulators," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 261-293, October.
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  8. Hart, Oliver D & Tirole, Jean, 1988. "Contract Renegotiation and Coasian Dynamics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(4), pages 509-40, October.
  9. Cremer, Jacques & McLean, Richard P, 1988. "Full Extraction of the Surplus in Bayesian and Dominant Strategy Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(6), pages 1247-57, November.
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  14. Alesina, Alberto & Tabellini, Guido, 1990. "A Positive Theory of Fiscal Deficits and Government Debt," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 403-14, July.
  15. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Martimort, David, 1994. "Separation of Regulators against Collusive Behavior," IDEI Working Papers 44, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  16. Lee, Sang Hyup & Hamilton, Jonathan H, 1999. "Using Market Structure to Regulate a Vertically Integrated Monopolist," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 223-48, May.
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  18. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
  19. Oliver Hart & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1996. "The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1778, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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  24. Lizzeri, Alessandro, 1999. "Budget Deficits and Redistributive Politics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(4), pages 909-28, October.
  25. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
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