The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Private transfers between individuals or through organized charities are increasingly viewed as an alternative for government social insurance programs. This paper models the incentive effects of government subsidized private transfers and finds that while there is a significant welfare benefit to subsidizing private transfers, there is also a significant welfare cost to this policy. It is shown analytically, as well as through simulations, that the optimal subsidy to private transfers is positive for a wide range of parameter values. This result indicates that subsidized private transfers in net terms are welfare enhancing.