A reform proposal from Kevin Hassett: "So let’s do something to reform Halloween. The first step would be for Halloween donors to give kids money instead of candy. Kids could then go to the supermarket the next day and binge on the candies they really like. That solution would get an A-plus in economics."
Linked here. But alas, in-kind transfers are often more efficient than cash gifts, and that holds for public policy as well. (Imagine giving "money to buy kidney dialysis," instead of "kidney dialysis," and see how many people fake kidney disease.) The candy transfer insures that a) mostly young kids do the asking, and b) at some point everyone just stops and goes home. I’ve long wanted to know how much movie attendance rises on Halloween evening, given that the real cost of going is suddenly and temporarily much lower.
Addendum: Here is a new paper on cash vs. in-kind transfers.