Tim Harford has a great little piece in FT on the poor in undeveloped countries turning to the market to provide services even when there is free government provision:
Imagine that your daily earnings were less than the price of this newspaper. Would you consider buying private education and private healthcare?
Before you make up your mind, here are a few considerations: government healthcare and primary education are free; the private-sector doctors are ignorant quacks and the teachers are poorly qualified; the private schools are cramped and often illegal. It doesn’t sound like a tough decision. Yet millions of very poor people around the world are taking the private-sector option. And, when you look a little closer at the choice, it’s not so hard to see why.
Read the whole thing. It’s a nice antidote to the common assumption that poor people are incapable of dealing with their situation and require government assistance.