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Excess burden and the cost of inefficiency in public services provision

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  • Afonso, António
  • Gaspar, Vítor

Abstract

In this paper we revisit the literature on the economic consequences from inefficiency in public services provision. Following Dupuit (1844) and Pigou (1947) we argue that it is important to take the financing side explicitly into account. The fact that public expenditure financing must rely on distortional taxation implies that both direct and indirect costs are relevant when estimating the economic impacts of inefficiency in public services provision. Using Hicks’ compensating variation (following Diamond and McFadden (1974) and Auerbach (1985)) we show that these magnification mechanisms are not only conceptually relevant, they are also important from a quantitative point of view. Specifically, we rely on a range of estimates of public sector efficiency (from Afonso, Schuknecht and Tanzi (2005, 2006)) to illustrate numerically that the relative importance of indirect costs of public sector provision inefficiency, linked to financing through distortional taxation increases with the magnitude of the inefficiency. JEL Classification: D11, E62, H21, H50

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 0601.

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Date of creation: Apr 2006
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20060601

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Keywords: excess burden; Government efficiency; spending; taxes;

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  1. Antonio Afonso & Ludger Schuknecht & Vito Tanzi, 2010. "Public sector efficiency: evidence for new EU member states and emerging markets," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(17), pages 2147-2164.
  2. António Afonso & Miguel St. Aubyn, 2005. "Non-parametric approaches to education and health efficiency in OECD countries," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 0, pages 227-246, November.
  3. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1972. "The structure of indirect taxation and economic efficiency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 97-119, April.
  4. Afonso, António & St. Aubyn, Miguel, 2005. "Cross-country efficiency of secondary education provision: a semi-parametric analysis with non-discretionary inputs," Working Paper Series 0494, European Central Bank.
  5. Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "Why do Americans work so much more than Europeans?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Jul, pages 2-13.
  6. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Dasgupta, P, 1971. "Differential Taxation, Public Goods and Economic Efficiency," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 151-74, April.
  7. António Afonso & Ludger Schuknecht & Vito Tanzi, 2005. "Public sector efficiency: An international comparison," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 123(3), pages 321-347, June.
  8. Alan J. Auerbach, 1986. "The Theory of Excess Burden and Optimal Taxation," NBER Working Papers 1025, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Atkinson, Anthony B & Stern, N H, 1974. "Pigou, Taxation and Public Goods," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1), pages 119-28, January.
  10. Diamond, P. A. & McFadden, D. L., 1974. "Some uses of the expenditure function in public finance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 3-21, February.
  11. Peter A. Diamond & J. A. Mirrlees, 1968. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production," Working papers 22, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Afonso, António & Schuknecht, Ludger & Tanzi, Vito, 2006. "Public sector efficiency: evidence for new EU member states and emerging markets," Working Paper Series 0581, European Central Bank.
  2. Vitale, Paolo, 2006. "A market microstructure analysis of foreign exchange intervention," Working Paper Series 0629, European Central Bank.
  3. Dias, Daniel & Robalo Marques, Carlos & Santos Silva, João M. C., 2006. "Measuring the importance of the uniform nonsynchronization hypothesis," Working Paper Series 0606, European Central Bank.

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