Public Goods and Budget Deficit

Abraham Neyman and Tim Russo

We examine incentive-compatible mechanisms for fair financing and efficient selection of a public budget (or public good). A mechanism selects the level of the public budget and imposes taxes on individuals. Individuals' preferences are quasilinear. Fairness is expressed as weak monotonicity (called scale monotonicity) of the tax imposed on an individual as a function of his benefit from an increased level of the public budget. Efficiency is expressed as selection of a Pareto-optimal level of the public budget. The budget deficit is the difference between the public budget and the total amount of taxes collected from the individuals. We show that any efficient scale-monotonic and incentive-compatible mechanism may generate a budget deficit. Moreover, it is impossible to collect taxes that always cover a fixed small fraction of the total cost.

July, 2006
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