Wednesday, July 21, 2021


An Interdisciplinary Look at Public Options

In their book Politics, Policy, and Public Options (Cambridge University Press, 2021), Professor Anne Alstott ’87 and co-editor Ganesh Sitaraman assemble a collection of scholars from across disciplines to explore the theory of the public option.

Public options are a longstanding feature of American life across sectors — not just in health care, although many people will associate the term with that context.  Public options abound when the government provides a service that co-exist with private alternatives, and examples range from libraries to swimming pools to the postal service.

The book follows up on Alstott’s and Sitaraman’s 2019 book, The Public Option: How to Expand Freedom, Increase Opportunity, and Promote Equality (Harvard University Press, 2019) in which they argued that the government could make even more use of public options to deliver services that improve the lives of all Americans — ranging from higher education to child care to broadband.

The new book is the first interdisciplinary collection to assess public options as a single category and explores case studies to show how public options can be a balancing influence to the longstanding trend toward privatization and subsidies of services. Contributors to the book examine sectors such as postal banking, health care, insurance, education, and more.

Anne Alstott is the Jacquin D. Bierman Professor at the Yale Law School. She holds a courtesy appointment as Professor, Yale Child Study Center, and is a Faculty Affiliate at the Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies. 

Ganesh Sitaraman is New York Alumni Chancellor’s Chair in Law Director, Program in Law and Government at Vanderbilt Law School.