Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

A critique of Ng's third-best theory

Contents:

Author Info

Abstract

The theory of second best established that the effect on community welfare of any one policy change varies with the specific context in which that change occurs. In paper that has been frequently quoted to justify specific policies, Ng argues that fulfilling firstbest conditions piecemeal is an optimal policy under quite general conditions when neither full first nor second best optima are achievable. This paper first argues that Ng's conclusion does not follow from his own assumptions, which imply instead that the status quo should be maintained, whatever it might be. Next it gives one illustrative example showing how much damage can be caused by following Ng's advice. It then argues that when Ng's key assumption is replaced by one that is closer to the facts, there is no general a priori presumption for adopting any specific policy, including maintaining the status quo. The paper closes with some observations on the usefulness of welfare economics even when the full implications of second best theory are accepted.

Download Info

If 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.
File URL: http://www.sfu.ca/econ-research/RePEc/sfu/sfudps/dp12-02.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University in its series Discussion Papers with number dp12-02.

as in new window
Length: 16
Date of creation: Mar 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:sfu:sfudps:dp12-02

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada
Phone: (778)782-3508
Fax: (778)782-5944
Web page: http://www.sfu.ca/economics.html
More information through EDIRC

Order Information:
Postal: Working Paper Coordinator, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC, V5A 1S6, Canada
Email:
Web: http://www.sfu.ca/economics/research/publications.html

Related research

Keywords: Second best; third best; reaction function; piecemeal welfare policies;

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
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.:
as in new window
  1. Yew-Kwang Ng, 1987. "Equity, Efficiency and Financial Viability: Public-Utility Pricing with Special Reference to Water Supply," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 20(3), pages 21-35.
  2. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1984. "Quasi-Pareto Social Improvements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 1033-50, December.
  3. Yew-Kwang Ng, 2000. "The Optimal Size of Public Spending and the Distortionary Cost of Taxation," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series archive-19, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  4. Richard Lipsey, 2007. "Reflections on the general theory of second best at its golden jubilee," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 349-364, August.
  5. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1987. ""Political Distortions" and the Relevance of Second and Third-Best Theories," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 42(1), pages 137-45.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sfu:sfudps:dp12-02. See general 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: (Working Paper Coordinator).

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.