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Funding Public Goods with Lotteries: Experimental Evidence

John Morgan and Martin Sefton

Review of Economic Studies, 2000, vol. 67, issue 4, 785-810

Abstract: Why do individuals participate in charitable gambling activities? We conduct a laboratory investigation of a model that predicts risk-neutral expected utility maximizers will participate in lotteries when they recognize that lotteries are being used to finance public goods. As predicted by the model, we find that public goods provision is higher when financed by lottery proceeds than when financed by voluntary contributions. We also find support for other comparative static predictions of the model. In particular we find that ticket purchases vary with the size of the fixed prize and with the return from the public good: lotteries with large prizes are more effective, and ticket purchases drop dramatically when the public good is not valued by subjects.

Date: 2000
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Review of Economic Studies is currently edited by Thomas Chaney, Andrea Galeotti, Bård Harstad, Nir Jaimovich, Kurt Mitman, Francesca Molinari, Katrine Loken and Elias Papaioannou

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