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Private nonprofit institutions account for a sizable and growing share of our nation's economic activity. The sectors in which these institutions are most common-education, research, health care, the media, and the arts-are vital elements in the modern economy. Moreover, these are sectors that present particularly pressing and difficult problems of public policy. The existing literature in law and economics, however, has largely overlooked nonprofit institutions; while we are reasonably well supplied with positive and normative perspectives on both profit-seeking and governmental organizations, to date there has been extraordinarily little effort to understand the role of nonprofits.

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