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Optimal Choice of Characteristics for a non-excludable Good


  • Isabelle Brocas


I consider a model where a principal decides whether to produce one unit of an indivisible good (e.g. a private school) and which characteristics it will contain (emphasis on language or science). Agents (parents) are differentiated along two substitutable dimensions: a vertical parameter that captures their privately known valuation for the good (demand for private education), and an horizontal parameter that captures their observable differences in preferences for the characteristics. I analyze the optimal mechanism offered by the principal to allocate the good and show that the principal will produce a good with characteristics more on the lines of the preferences of the agent with the lowest valuation. Furthermore, if the principal has also a private valuation for the good, he will bias the choice of the characteristics against his own preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Isabelle Brocas, 2006. "Optimal Choice of Characteristics for a non-excludable Good," IEPR Working Papers 06.52, Institute of Economic Policy Research (IEPR).
  • Handle: RePEc:scp:wpaper:06-52

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1986. "Using Cost Observation to Regulate Firms," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 614-641, June.
    2. Jullien, Bruno, 2000. "Participation Constraints in Adverse Selection Models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 1-47, July.
    3. Lockwood, Ben, 2000. "Production Externalities and Two-way Distortion in Principal-multi-agent Problems," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 142-166, May.
    4. Ilya Segal & Michael D. Whinston, 2003. "Robust Predictions for Bilateral Contracting with Externalities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(3), pages 757-791, May.
    5. d'Aspremont, Claude & Gerard-Varet, Louis-Andre, 1979. "Incentives and incomplete information," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 25-45, February.
    6. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1992. "The Principal-Agent Relationship with an Informed Principal, II: Common Values," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(1), pages 1-42, January.
    7. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 1990. "The Principal-Agent Relationship with an Informed Principal: The Case of Private Values," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(2), pages 379-409, March.
    8. Ilya Segal, 1999. "Contracting with Externalities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 337-388.
    9. Cornelli, Francesca, 1996. "Optimal Selling Procedures with Fixed Costs," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 1-30, October.
    10. Maggi G. & Rodriguez-Clare A., 1995. "On Countervailing Incentives," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 238-263, June.
    11. Wildasin, David E., 1979. "Local public goods, property values, and local public choice," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 521-534, October.
    12. Groves, Theodore, 1973. "Incentives in Teams," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(4), pages 617-631, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brocas, Isabelle, 2014. "Countervailing incentives in allocation mechanisms with type-dependent externalities," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 22-33.
    2. Brocas, Isabelle, 2013. "Selling an asset to a competitor," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 39-62.

    More about this item


    Allocation mechanisms; non-excludable goods; vertical and horizontal differentiation; mechanism design; externalities;

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities

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