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The Organization of Public Service Provision

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  • William Jack

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. Copyright 2004 Blackwell Publishing Inc..

Suggested Citation

  • William Jack, 2004. "The Organization of Public Service Provision," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 6(3), pages 409-425, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jpbect:v:6:y:2004:i:3:p:409-425
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 1998. "Power in a Theory of the Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 387-432.
    3. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-1158, December.
    4. 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.
    5. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
    6. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 361-386.
    7. Wallace E. Oates, 1999. "An Essay on Fiscal Federalism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1120-1149, September.
    8. Oliver Hart & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. "The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1127-1161.
    9. repec:hrv:faseco:30727607 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Billy Jack, 2003. "Comparing the distortionary effects of alternative in-kind intergovernmental transfers," Working Papers gueconwpa~03-03-17, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
    2. Sacchi, Agnese & Salotti, Simone, 2014. "The asymmetric nature of fiscal decentralization: theory and practice," MPRA Paper 54506, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations

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