Who Should Pay for Space Exploration?
Wooster, Martin Morse, The American Enterprise
Who Should Pay For Space Exploration? Jonathan M. Karpoff, "Public Versus Private Incentives in Arctic Exploration: The Effects of Incentives and Organizational Structure," in Journal of Political Economy (February 2001), University of Chicago Press, Journals Division, Post Office Box 37005, Chicago, Illinois 60037.
Should government fund space exploration, or is this a role best left to private initiative? Karpoff, an economist at the University of Washington, suggests that an answer is to be found in Arctic exploration in the ninteenth and early twentieth centuries, where there was vigorous competition between government-funded and privately funded expeditions. Karpoff finds that, compared to their private counterparts, state-funded expeditions "made fewer discoveries, introduced fewer technological innovations, were subject to higher rates of scurvy, lost more ships, and had more explorers die."
Karpoff examined 92 Arctic expeditions that took place between 1818 and 1909. While 35 of these expeditions were primarily state-funded, 57 were private. The government-funded expeditions tended to be bigger and more wasteful, on average losing significantly more crewmen and ships than private expeditions.
Government expeditions tended to be led by commanders assigned to exploration duty, as opposed to men with a natural inclination for it. …