Intergenerational Public Goods

Todd Sandler

in Global Public Goods

Published in print July 1999 | ISBN: 9780195130522
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199867363 | DOI:
 Intergenerational Public Goods

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We live in a “brave new world” in which allocative decisions on public goods today can have consequences that cross political and generational boundaries. Although the international aspects of public goods have received much attention in recent years, particularly with respect to environmental activities, intergenerational public goods have received relatively scant attention.

In response, this chapter has five main purposes. First, it presents a taxonomy of public goods with benefits spanning generational or national boundaries. Second, it describes the implications for economic efficiency of a variety of public goods that affect nations or generations. Third, it explores the strategic aspects of intergenerational public goods. Fourth, it offers design principles for institutional arrangements, intended to address concerns about the allocation of transgenerational public goods. Fifth, the analysis is applied to specific cases of intergenerational public goods throughout. A number of policy insights derive from this analysis. At the national level, decision‐makers are unlikely to achieve optimal levels of these public goods. If intergenerational awareness of public goods spillovers is only encouraged within a country, then that country's well‐being may actually deteriorate as others free ride on its enhanced far‐sightedness. Thus, cooperation and increased awareness of spillovers must have both an international and an intergenerational dimension for all nations to gain.

Keywords: aggregation technologies; club goods; economic efficiency; global public goods; impure public goods; intergenerational clubs; intergenerational public goods; joint products; Nash equilibrium; pure public goods; spillovers

Chapter.  11027 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Economics

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