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Should We Extend the Role of Private Social Expenditure?

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Author Info

  • Pearson, Mark

    ()
    (OECD)

  • Martin, John P.

    ()
    (University College Dublin)

Abstract

Some people make great claims about the advantages to be gained from greater reliance on the private sector for the provision of social protection. Many of the claims for great macroeconomic advantages do not stand up to scrutiny. However, there is some reason to hope that private provision might promote microeconomic efficiency and services which are more responsive to consumer preferences than those provided by a single monopoly public sector provider. Drawing on examples from recent OECD country experiences with private health insurance, care for children and the elderly, and private pension provision, three main conclusions can be drawn. First, opening provision to a diversity of providers has often promoted more choice and innovation. Second, however, efficiency gains have often been limited. This is due to a number of inter-related reasons: (a) Individualisation of packages of services is expensive. (b) In order to ensure adequate coverage of the population, cross-subsidisation of particular groups of people is often mandated on providers, reducing cost-competition and diversity of choice. (c) Informational asymmetries (how good is this childcare which I cannot personally monitor, or this health care package which I am not technically able to assess?) cannot be overcome without extensive regulation, which has the effect of limiting innovation and competition. (d) The fiscal incentives necessary to stimulate private provision are high, and have welfare costs of their own. Third, and related to this last point, the distributional effects of private provision raise significant social problems. Private financing and provision of social benefits is not a magic wand; waving it in the social protection field will not mean that the economy and voters will be freed from some great deadweight that has been dragging them down. Nevertheless, the private sector can sometimes deliver either a slightly cheaper, slightly more varied or slightly more flexible system of social protection.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1544.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1544

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Related research

Keywords: private social protection; private health insurance; child care; long-term care for the frail elderly; private pensions; efficiency; choice;

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References

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  1. Jens Lundsgaard, 2002. "Competition and Efficiency in Publicly Funded Services," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2002(2), pages 79-128.
  2. Thai-Thanh Dang & Pablo Antolín & Howard Oxley, 2001. "Fiscal Implications of Ageing: Projections of Age-Related Spending," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 305, OECD Publishing.
  3. Jane Hall & Richard De Abreu Lourenco & Rosalie Viney, 1999. "Carrots and sticks-the fall and fall of private health insurance in Australia," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(8), pages 653-660.
  4. Roman Arjona & Maxime Ladaique & Mark Pearson, 2001. "Growth, Inequality and Social Protection," OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers 51, OECD Publishing.
  5. Jens Lundsgaard, 2002. "Competition and Efficiency in Publicly Funded Services," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 331, OECD Publishing.
  6. Rebecca M. Blank, 1999. "When Can Public Policy Makers Rely on Private Markets? The Effective Provision of Social Services," NBER Working Papers 7099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Andrea Bassanini & Stefano Scarpetta, 2001. "The Driving Forces of Economic Growth: Panel Data Evidence for the OECD Countries," Post-Print halshs-00168383, HAL.
  8. Francesca Colombo, 2001. "Towards More Choice in Social Protection?: Individual Choice of Insurer in Basic Mandatory Health Insurance in Switzerland," OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers 53, OECD Publishing.
  9. Greß, Stefan & Okma, Kieke G. H. & Wasem, Jürgen, 2002. "Private health insurance in social health insurance countries: Market outcomes and policy implications," Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Diskussionspapiere 01/2002, Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald, Faculty of Law and Economics.
  10. Willem Adema & Marcel Einerhand, 1998. "The Growing Role of Private Social Benefits," OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers 32, OECD Publishing.
  11. David W. Kalisch & Tetsuya Aman & Libbie A. Buchele, 1998. "Social and Health Policies in OECD Countries: A Survey of Current Programmes and Recent Developments," OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers 33, OECD Publishing.
  12. A. B. Atkinson, 1999. "The Economic Consequences of Rolling Back the Welfare State," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262011719, December.
  13. Pablo Antolín & Alain de Serres & Christine de la Maisonneuve, 2004. "Long-Term Budgetary Implications of Tax-Favoured Retirement Plans," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 393, OECD Publishing.
  14. Willem Adema, 2001. "Net Social Expenditure: 2nd Edition," OECD Labour Market and Social Policy Occasional Papers 52, OECD Publishing.
  15. Michael Leahy & Sebastian Schich & Gert Wehinger & Florian Pelgrin & Thorsteinn Thorgeirsson, 2001. "Contributions of Financial Systems to Growth in OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 280, OECD Publishing.
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Cited by:
  1. Beraldo, Sergio & Montolio, Daniel & Turati, Gilberto, 2009. "Healthy, educated and wealthy: A primer on the impact of public and private welfare expenditures on economic growth," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 946-956, December.
  2. Lindbeck, Assar, 2006. "The Welfare State -- Background, Achievements, Problems," Working Paper Series 662, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  3. Martin Heipertz & Melanie Ward-Warmedinger, 2008. "Economic and Social Models in Europe and the Importance of Reform," Financial Theory and Practice, Institute of Public Finance, vol. 32(3), pages 255-287.
  4. Schmid, Günther, 2006. "Sharing risk: on social risk management and the governance of labour market transitions," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Labor Market Policy and Employment SP I 2006-101, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).

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