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Lotteries, Liberty, and Legislatures

Lloyd R. Cohen

George Mason University School of Law

February 2000

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: H29

working papers series

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Date posted: April 28, 2000  

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Lloyd R., Lotteries, Liberty, and Legislatures (February 2000). George Mason Law & Economics Working Paper No. 00-01. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=210008 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.210008

Contact Information

Lloyd R. Cohen (Contact Author)
George Mason University School of Law ( email )
3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
(703) 993-8048 (Phone)
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