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The Car Guards of Cape Town: A Public Good Analysis

  • Hayley McEwen
  • Anthony Leiman
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    Car guards have become a part of everyday life for drivers in Cape Town and other metropolitan centres around South Africa. This paper analyses the development and economic functioning of the industry with the understanding that the market exhibits quasipublic good characteristics. Some unusual phenomena are explored. Firstly free riding does not lead to under-provision in the market due to the survivalist nature of the supply, the noncontractual nature of the demand and varied public perceptions. Secondly private firms enter the market as a signalling device for the heterogeneous quality of car guards. Lastly drivers continue to pay car guards in the face of free riding due to varied preference curves and a degree of altruism in rational agents. Twenty detailed case studies are undertaken and the results presented and used to inform the theoretical conclusions made throughout the paper.

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    Paper provided by Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town in its series SALDRU Working Papers with number 25.

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    Length: 25 pages
    Date of creation: Oct 2008
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ldr:wpaper:25
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    1. Freeman, A. III, 1984. "Depletable externalities and pigouvian taxation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 173-179, June.
    2. Bradford, David F. & Hildebrandt, Gregory G., 1977. "Observable preferences for public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 111-131, October.
    3. K. Pauw & M. Oosthuizen & C. Van der westhuizen, 2008. "Graduate Unemployment In The Face Of Skills Shortages: A Labour Market Paradox," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 76(1), pages 45-57, 03.
    4. Fields, Gary S., 1975. "Rural-urban migration, urban unemployment and underemployment, and job-search activity in LDCs," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 165-187, June.
    5. Colin Camerer & Ernst Fehr & Herbert Gintis & Joseph Henrich & Richard McElreath & Robert Boyd & Samuel Bowles, 2001. "In search of homo economicus: Experiments in 15 small-scale societies," Artefactual Field Experiments 00068, The Field Experiments Website.
    6. Joseph Henrich, 2001. "In Search of Homo Economicus: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 73-78, May.
    7. Fischbacher, Urs & Gächter, Simon, 2006. "Heterogeneous Social Preferences and the Dynamics of Free Riding in Public Goods," IZA Discussion Papers 2011, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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