NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Economics of Vouchers

David F. Bradford, Daniel N. Shaviro

NBER Working Paper No. 7092
Issued in April 1999
NBER Program(s):   PE

This paper aims to provide a swift tour of the economic issues presented by vouchers and thus to fill an apparent gap in the literature for a basic survey of the subject. Among the issues it considers are: factors determining a voucher's cash-equivalence; reasons (such as paternalism, externalities, and distribution) for giving beneficiaries non-cash-equivalent vouchers rather than cash; optimal tax issues involved in the design of vouchers and the choice between vouchers and other delivery mechanisms, including factors determining the optimal marginal reimbursement rate (MRR) in a voucher program, and the similarity between this question and that of determining optimal marginal tax rates (MTRs) under the income tax; the incentive effects of voucher eligibility criteria, such as income or asset tests; factors determining the allocative and price effects of vouchers, both in the short run when unexpectedly enacted and at equilibrium; and factors relevant to the choice between private and public supply that may often overlap with the decision whether to adopt a voucher program.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7092

Published: Steuerle, C. Eugene, et al. (eds.) Vouchers and the provision of public services. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press; Washington, D.C.: Committee for Economic Development, 2000.

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