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Excess burden and the cost of inefficiency in public services provision

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  • António Afonso
  • Vítor Gaspar

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.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by ISEG - School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, University of Lisbon in its series Working Papers Department of Economics with number 2006/05.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:ise:isegwp:wp52006

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Postal: Department of Economics, ISEG - School of Economics and Management, University of Lisbon, Rua do Quelhas 6, 1200-781 LISBON, PORTUGAL
Web page: https://aquila1.iseg.ulisboa.pt/aquila/departamentos/EC

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

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References

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  1. Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "Why Do Americans Work So Much More Than Europeans?," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000413, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Auerbach, Alan J., 1985. "The theory of excess burden and optimal taxation," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 61-127 Elsevier.
  3. 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.
  4. António Afonso & Ludger Schuknecht & Vito Tanzi, 2006. "Public Sector Efficiency: Evidence for New EU Member States and Emerging Markets," Working Papers Department of Economics 2006/01, ISEG - School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, University of Lisbon.
  5. 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.
  6. Joseph E. Stiglitz & Partha Dasgupta, 1970. "Differential Taxation, Public Goods, and Economic Efficiency," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 299, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  7. Tanzi,Vito & Schuknecht,Ludger, 2000. "Public Spending in the 20th Century," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521662918.
  8. António Afonso & Ludger Schuknecht & Vito Tanzi, 2005. "Public sector efficiency: An international comparison," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 123(3), pages 321-347, June.
  9. Afonso, Antonio & St. Aubyn, Miguel, 2006. "Cross-country efficiency of secondary education provision: A semi-parametric analysis with non-discretionary inputs," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 476-491, May.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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. 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. Daniel Dias & Carlos Robalo Marques & J.M.C.Santos Silva, 2006. "Measuring the Importance of the Uniform Nonsynchronization Hypothesis," Working Papers w200603, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
  3. Vitale, Paolo, 2006. "A market microstructure analysis of foreign exchange intervention," Working Paper Series 0629, European Central Bank.

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