These are two separate things.  We can imagine the public good of "a
functional Africa" that will suffer from the traditional public goods
problems.  But, I don't think that you can say the same for the plethora
of "save the children" type charities that assure you that a child's life
will be saved for your $20/mth.  The benefits from that are largely
internalized -- the donor gets to feel better about himself for having
saved the life, etc.  The contribution to any public good is next to nil
-- the continent remains disfunctional and there is still rampant
starvation and war.  But, the donor has personally made one person better
off who wouldn't likely have been made better off absent the
contribution.  Don't think we can invoke public goods here.


On Thu, 5 Jun 2003, Rodney F Weiher wrote:

> Disagree.  Think of Africa as a non-use public good with a willingness-to-pay
> for it's existence value, just as African wildlife. Since quantifying its
> value (WTP) is a contingent value problem, you have all the associated
> measurement problems such as sampling, selecting the right payment vehicle,
> and strategic responses.
> This suggests WTP is greater than observed payments, although its an
> empirical question that would be expensive to try to answer (see the survey
> design, sampling, and analysis cost in the EXXON  Valdez case).
> Eric Crampton wrote:
> > On Wed, 4 Jun 2003, Jason DeBacker wrote:
> >
> > > Is it not possible that there is some common goods problem?  People not
> > > helping b/c they think others will?  The general welfare of others is a
> > > public good afterall, right?- (non-rival, non-excludable)
> >
> > Exceedingly implausible in the Africa case.  Only plausible if the amount
> > of potential help exceeds potential "need".  Story works for why people
> > don't give to the bum looking for money on the street; doesn't explain
> > why people don't give to Africa.

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