Lotteries, Liberty, and Legislatures
Lloyd R. Cohen
George Mason University School of Law
George Mason Law & Economics Working Paper No. 00-01
The central purpose of this paper is to show that lottery play is not economically irrational and uninformed. The paper presents a theory of lottery tickets not as misguided inputs into wealth production as some critics believe but as valuable inputs in creating a sense of open-ended possibility, specifically the possibility of escaping one's current life by acquiring great wealth. In the course of the discussion the claim that the lottery is a regressive tax is investigated and a variety of empirical predictions are generated as to patterns of purchase both across groups and by individuals. Finally the insights gained from the earlier discussion are employed as a springboard to reground the normative use of the assumption of rational utility maximization.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 57
JEL Classification: H29working papers series
Date posted: April 28, 2000
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