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Support for Public Provision with Top-Up and Opt-Out: A Controlled Laboratory Experiment


  • Neil Buckley
  • Katherine Cuff
  • Jeremiah Hurley
  • Stuart Mestelman
  • Stephanie Thomas
  • David Cameron


We empirically test the predictions of political economy models regarding public support for a publicly provided private good financed with proportional income taxes when individuals can purchase the good privately and either continue to consume public provision ('top-up') or forego public provision ('opt-out'). Our laboratory results confirm the predicted majority-preferred tax rate in the mixed financing with top-up treatment, but find significantly higher rates than predicted in the mixed financing with opt-out treatment. Using non-parametric regression analysis, we also explore the relationship between individuals' top-up and opt-out decisions and both their income levels and the implemented tax rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Neil Buckley & Katherine Cuff & Jeremiah Hurley & Stuart Mestelman & Stephanie Thomas & David Cameron, 2013. "Support for Public Provision with Top-Up and Opt-Out: A Controlled Laboratory Experiment," Department of Economics Working Papers 2013-15, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:deptwp:2013-15

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    More about this item


    publicly provided private good; mixed financing; voting experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • H42 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Private Goods
    • H44 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Goods: Mixed Markets
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation

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