Forthcoming: The Lightship in Economics

My article with Rosolino Candela, The Lightship in Economics, has been accepted today for publication at Public Choice. This is the second of a series of articles that we are working on in order to reconsider the role of the lighthouse in economics (a debate that has been vivid since Ronald Coase’s 1974 article in the Journal of Law & Economics). The abstract is below and the paper can be consulted here:

What role does government play in the provision of public goods? Economists have used the lighthouse as an empirical example to illustrate the extent to which the private provision of public goods is possible. This inquiry, however, has neglected the private provision of lightships. We investigate the private operation of the world’s first modern lightship, established in 1731 on the banks of the Thames estuary going in and out of London. First, we show that the Nore lightship was able to operate profitably and without government enforcement in the collection of payment for lighting services. Second, we show how private efforts to build lightships were crowded out by Trinity House, the public authority responsible for the maintaining and establishing lighthouses in England and Wales. By including lightships into the broader lighthouse market, we argue that the provision of lighting services exemplifies not a market failure, but a government failure

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