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The Organization of Public Service Provision

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Abstract

This paper addresses the question of how the responsibility for the delivery of social services, including health, education, and welfare programs, should be divided between state and central governments. We combine a random voting model and the incomplete contracts paradigm to formalize the trade off between central and state responsibility for service delivery, and find that authority should rest with the party for whom the marginal impact of the service on re-election chances is greater. This in turn means that, other things equal, states with lower than average health, education, or welfare status should be given responsibility for service delivery, while authority in states with above average indicators should reside with the central government. Also, we show that there is no presumption that states that are given authority for service delivery should necessarily be granted expanded tax authority.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Georgetown University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number gueconwpa~03-03-14.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2003
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Handle: RePEc:geo:guwopa:gueconwpa~03-03-14

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Postal: Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
Phone: 202-687-6074
Fax: 202-687-6102
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Web page: http://econ.georgetown.edu/

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Postal: Marcia Suss Administrative Officer Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
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Web: http://econ.georgetown.edu/

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Keywords: public service provision; political economy; random voting; incomplete contracts;

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References

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  1. Oliver Hart & Sanford Grossman, 1985. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Working papers 372, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Rajan, Raghuram G & Zingales, Luigi, 1998. "Power in a Theory of the Firm," CEPR Discussion Papers 1777, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. David De Meza & Ben Lockwood, 1998. "Does Asset Ownership Always Motivate Managers? Outside Options And The Property Rights Theory Of The Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 361-386, May.
  4. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1988. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Working papers 495, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  5. Jan K. Brueckner, 1999. "Welfare Reform and the Race to the Bottom: Theory and Evidence," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 505-525, January.
  6. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 1999. "Centralized versus Decentralized Provision of Local Public Goods: A Political Economy Analysis," NBER Working Papers 7084, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2002. "School Choice and School Productivity (or Could School Choice be a Tide that Lifts All Boats?)," NBER Working Papers 8873, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Oliver Hart & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons," NBER Working Papers 5744, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Wallace E. Oates, 1999. "An Essay on Fiscal Federalism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1120-1149, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Sacchi, Agnese & Salotti, Simone, 2014. "The asymmetric nature of fiscal decentralization: theory and practice," MPRA Paper 54506, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Billy Jack, 2003. "Comparing the distortionary effects of alternative in-kind intergovernmental transfers," Working Papers gueconwpa~03-03-17, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.

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