Should a non-rival public good always be provided centrally

This paper discusses the problem of optimal design of a jurisdiction structure from the view point of a utilitarian social planner when individuals with identical utility functions for a non-rival public good and private consumption have private information about their contributive capacities. It shows that the superiority of a centralized provision of a non-rival public good over a federal one does not always hold. Specifically, when differences in individuals’ contributive capacities are large, it is better to provide the public good in several distinct jurisdictions rather than to pool these jurisdictions into a single one. In the specific situation where individuals have logarithmic utilities, the paper provides a complete characterization of the optimal jurisdiction structure in the two-type case.

 "C’est pour unir les avantages divers qui résultent de la grandeur et de la petitesse des nations que le fédératif a été créé." (Alexis de Toqueville)

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