The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Public Goods

  • Agnar Sandmo
Reference work entry


This article provides a mathematical and diagrammatic exposition of the theory of public goods as originally formulated by Paul Samuelson. It describes the extension of the model to take account of the costs of distortionary taxation, and discusses the concept of the marginal cost of public funds. Different types of public goods (such as mixed goods and local and global public goods) are discussed before a survey of the incentive problems related to preference revelation.


Benefit theory of taxation Clubs Cost-benefit analysis Direct democracy Distortionary taxation Externalities Free-rider problem Global public goods International migration Lindahl equilibrium Local public finance Local public goods Lump-sum taxes Marginal cost of public funds Marginal rate of substitution Marginal rate of transformation Market failure Mixed goods Non-rivalry in consumption Optimal taxation Pigou, A. C. Public factors of production Public finance Public goods Pure public goods Redistribution of income and wealth Revealed preferences Samuelson, P. A. Second best Shadow pricing Single-peaked preferences Tax incidence Tiebout hypothesis Voluntary provision of public goods Voting Willingness to pay 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Agnar Sandmo
    • 1
  1. 1.