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Politically (In)Correct Targeting: A Public Choice Analysis


  • J Cullis
  • P Jones


Targets have become a key instrument in UK economic policy. Numerical targets, such as the UK target for waiting list times for inpatient treatment, have a rationale in terms of public choice analysis. They appear to be premised on politicians' pursuit of getting elected. However, increasingly they are a target for criticism. This paper provides an assessment of targets in the public sector. It considers the rationale for adopting targets and actors' responses to incentives created by NHS targets. Whilst targets may make short-run political sense and therefore be 'politically correct', from other perspectives they look 'incorrect'. The analysis indicates that, in political processes, credibility gains contingent on target setting are likely to be short-lived and counter-productive.

Suggested Citation

  • J Cullis & P Jones, 2007. "Politically (In)Correct Targeting: A Public Choice Analysis," Economic Issues Journal Articles, Economic Issues, vol. 12(1), pages 19-30, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eis:articl:107jones

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