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Working Paper Series

Local Public Goods and Clubs


  • Suzanne Scotchmer, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley


  • Goldman School of Public Policy Working Paper (March 2002)


I discuss recent contributions to the theory of group formation and the provision of jointly consumed public goods and services. I highlight the distinction between models of pure group formation, and models where the formation of groups and the sharing of public goods are constrained by a division of geographic space into jurisdictions. Much of the literature concerns the distortions that arise when price systems or tax systems are constrained, for example, to serve the dual roles of redistributing income and funding public services. I also highlight the distortions that can arise from arbitrary divisions of space, and review recent contributions that emphasize the distortions that arise when there are both public and private providers of services. My focus is mainly on equilibrium concepts and policy instruments.

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