DP13204 | Government versus Private Ownership of Public Goods: Experimental Evidence

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Who should own public projects? We report data from a laboratory experiment with 480 participants that was designed to test Besley and Ghatak's (2001) public-good version of the Grossman-Hart-Moore property rights theory. Consider two parties, one of whom can invest in the provision of a public good. The parties value the public good differently. Besley and Ghatak (2001) argue that more investments will be made if the high-valuation party is the owner, regardless of whether or not this party is the investor. While our experimental results provide support for the Grossman-Hart-Moore theory, they cast some doubts on the robustness of Besley and Ghatak's (2001) conclusion.