Distinguished Lecture on Economics in Government: The Private Uses of Public Interests: Incentives and Institutions
Abstract[Joseph Stiglitz was a member of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1993-95, and chairman of the CEA from 1995 through February 1997.] Today, I want to share with you some of my thoughts about the possibilities and limitations of government. These thoughts are focused around a simple question: Why is it so difficult to implement even Pareto improvements? Working in Washington, I quickly saw that although a few potential changes were strictly Pareto improvements, there were many other changes that would hurt only a small, narrowly defined group (for example, increasing the efficiency of the legal system might hurt lawyers). But if everyone except a narrowly defined special interest group could be shown to benefit, surely the change should be made. In practice, however, "almost everyone" was rarely sufficient in government policy-making and often such near-Pareto improvements did not occur. My major theme will be to provide a set of explanations for why this might be so. I shall put forward four hypotheses in this lecture, each of which provides part of the explanation for the failure in at least one instance of a proposed Pareto improvement. These hypotheses, like much of the literature on government failures, focus on the role of incentives: how misaligned incentives can induce government officials to take actions that are not, in any sense, in the public interest.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.
Volume (Year): 12 (1998)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
- H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
- D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- John Vickers & George Yarrow, 1988. "Privatization: An Economic Analysis," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262720116, January.
- Nalebuff, Barry J & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1983. "Information, Competition, and Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(2), pages 278-83, May.
- Farrell, Joseph, 1987.
"Information and the Coase Theorem,"
Department of Economics, Working Paper Series
qt1sc2r800, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979.
"Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts,"
NBER Working Papers
0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-61, November.
- Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
- Greenwald, Bruce C & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1986. "Externalities in Economies with Imperfect Information and Incomplete Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 229-64, May.
- Isham, Jonathan & Narayan, Deepa & Pritchett, Lant, 1995. "Does Participation Improve Performance? Establishing Causality with Subjective Data," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 9(2), pages 175-200, May.
- Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1996. "Whither Socialism?," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262691825, January.
- Stanley Fischer, 1996. "Why are central banks pursuing long-run price stability?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 7-34.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros) or (Michael P. Albert).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.