On the Neutrality of Redistribution in a General Equilibrium Model with Public Goods

21 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2004

See all articles by Antonio Villanacci

Antonio Villanacci

University of Florence

Ünal Zenginobuz

Bogazici University - Department of Economics; Bogazici University - Center for Economic Design (CED)

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Date Written: August 20, 2004


We analyze a general equilibrium model of a completely decentralized pure public good economy. Competitive firms using private goods as inputs produce the public good, which is privately provided by households. Previous studies on private provision of public goods typically use one private good, one public good models in which the public good is produced through a constant returns to scale technology. Two distinguishing features of our model are the presence of several private goods and non-linear, in fact strictly concave, production technology for the public good. In this more general framework we revisit the question of neutrality of government interventions on private provision equilibrium outcomes. We show that relative price effects, which are absent with a single private good and under constant returns to scale technology for public good production, come to play an important role in our more general framework. Relative price effects provide a powerful channel through which government interventions can bring about redistributive wealth effects, which, in turn, will change equilibrium outcomes. While we confirm that the neutrality result holds for small taxes that involve only the contributing households, we show that contrary to what was shown in the one private good, linear production technology framework, a redistribution in favor of contributors is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition to increase the level of privately provided public good. In particular, redistributions involving non-contributors only (i.e., without either subsidizing or taxing any contributor) can increase, or decrease, or leave unchanged the public good level. Even taxing a contributor and subsidizing non-contributors can move the public good level in any direction.

Keywords: General equilibrium, public goods, neutrality

JEL Classification: H41, H49, H50

Suggested Citation

Villanacci, Antonio and Zenginobuz, Ünal, On the Neutrality of Redistribution in a General Equilibrium Model with Public Goods (August 20, 2004). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=608341 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.608341

Antonio Villanacci

University of Florence ( email )

Piazza di San Marco, 4
Florence, 50121
(055) 4223944 (Fax)

Ünal Zenginobuz (Contact Author)

Bogazici University - Department of Economics ( email )

Istanbul, TR 34342
+90 212 359 65 05 (Phone)
+90 212 287 24 53 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.boun.edu.tr/zobuz

Bogazici University - Center for Economic Design (CED) ( email )

Bogazici University
P.K. 2 Bebek
Istanbul, 34342
+90 212 287 24 76 (Phone)
+90 212 287 24 53 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ced.boun.edu.tr

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