57 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2000
Date Written: February 2000
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.
JEL Classification: H29
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Cohen, Lloyd R., Lotteries, Liberty, and Legislatures (February 2000). George Mason Law & Economics Working Paper No. 00-01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=210008 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.210008