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Voting and Lottery Drafts as Efficient Public Goods Mechanisms

  • John O. Ledyard
  • Thomas R. Palfrey

This paper characterizes interim efficient mechanisms for public good production and cost allocation in a two-type environment with risk neutral, quasi-linear preferences and fixed size projects, where the distribution of the private good, as well as the public goods decision, affects social welfare. An efficient public good decision can always be accomplished by a majority voting scheme, where the number of ``YES'' votes required depends on the welfare weights in a simple way. The results are shown to have a natural geometry and an intuitive interpretation. We also extend these results to allow for restrictions on feasible transfer rules, ranging from the traditional unlimited transfers to the extreme case of no transfers. For a range of welfare weights, an optimal scheme is a two-stage procedure which combines a voting stage with a second stage where an even-chance lottery is used to determine who pays. We call this the ``lottery draft mechanism''. Since such a cost-sharing scheme does not require transfers, it follows that in many cases transfers are not necessary to achieve the optimal allocation. For other ranges of welfare weights the second stage is more complicated, but the voting stage remains the same. If transfers are completely infeasible, randomized voting rules may be optimal. The paper also provides a geometric characterization of the effects of voluntary participation constraints. JEL Classification: 024, 026

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Game Theory and Information with number 9405003.

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Date of creation: 20 May 1994
Date of revision: 22 May 1994
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpga:9405003
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  1. Gueth,Werner & Hellwig,Martin, 1986. "The private supply of a public good," Discussion Paper Serie A 40, University of Bonn, Germany.
  2. Groves, Theodore, 1973. "Incentives in Teams," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(4), pages 617-31, July.
  3. Holmstrom, Bengt & Myerson, Roger B, 1983. "Efficient and Durable Decision Rules with Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(6), pages 1799-819, November.
  4. Palfrey, Thomas R. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1988. "Private incentives in social dilemmas : The effects of incomplete information and altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 309-332, April.
  5. Edward Clarke, 1971. "Multipart pricing of public goods," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 17-33, September.
  6. Roger B. Myerson, 1978. "Optimal Auction Design," Discussion Papers 362, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  7. Steven A. Matthews, 1983. "On the Implementability of Reduced Form Auctions," Discussion Papers 560, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  8. Roger B. Myerson & Mark A. Satterthwaite, 1981. "Efficient Mechanisms for Bilateral Trading," Discussion Papers 469S, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. Theodore Groves & John O. Ledyard, 1976. "Some Limitations of Demand Revealing Processes," Discussion Papers 219, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  10. Groves, Theodore & Ledyard, John O, 1977. "Optimal Allocation of Public Goods: A Solution to the "Free Rider" Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(4), pages 783-809, May.
  11. Maskin, Eric S & Riley, John G, 1984. "Optimal Auctions with Risk Averse Buyers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(6), pages 1473-1518, November.
  12. Border, Kim C, 1991. "Implementation of Reduced Form Auctions: A Geometric Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(4), pages 1175-87, July.
  13. Palfrey, Thomas R. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1991. "Testing for effects of cheap talk in a public goods game with private information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 183-220, May.
  14. Mailath, George J & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1990. "Asymmetric Information Bargaining Problems with Many Agents," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 351-67, July.
  15. Hurwicz, L, 1979. "Outcome Functions Yielding Walrasian and Lindahl Allocations at Nash Equilibrium Points," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(2), pages 217-25, April.
  16. Palfrey, Thomas R. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1984. "Participation and the provision of discrete public goods: a strategic analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 171-193, July.
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