The Logic of Collective Action has for decades supplied the logic of public policy analysis. In this pioneering application of public choice theory, Mancur Olson ele gantly punctured the premise -- shared by a diverse variety of political theories -- that individuals can be expected to act consistently with the interest of the groups to which they belong. Absent externally imposed incentives, wealth-maximizing individuals, he argued, will rarely find it in their interest to contribute to goods that benefit the group as a whole, but rather will "free ride" on the contributions that other group members make. As a result, too few individuals will contribute sufficiently, and the well-being of the group will suffer. These are the assumptions that dominate public policy analysis and ultimately public policy across a host of regulatory domains -- from tax collection to environmental conservation, from street-level policing to policing of the internet.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Kahan, Dan M., "The Logic of Reciprocity: Trust, Collective Action, and Law" (2002). John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy Working Papers. Paper 281.