Monday, January 4, 2010

Charities: competition vs. the social planner

Charities need to raise funds, and it is costly doing so. As the number of charities increases, so do these costs. This raises the question whether there is an optimal number of charities and whether some sort of regulation can bring us closer to this optimal number.

Murat Mungan and Yoruk Barls should that free competition leads to a suboptimal number of charities, in particular because some donors are solicited by several charities. In this respect, is a regulated monopoly the solution? One would think this is not optimal because charities pursue very diverse goals. Mugan and Barls show that in a spatial model this charity "ideologies," some extent of competition is good for maximizing net charity revenues as long as the fixed costs is sufficiently low. That seems like a trivially simple result, but it one worth pointing out. The way charities are regulated is by restricting entry and then taxing or subsidizing them to get the "right" fix cost.

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