A Principal-agent Theory of the Public Economy and Its Applications to China
This paper is intended to model the principal-agent relationship and its associated monitoring-incentive problems of the public economy. The basic findings are: (1) the degree of publicness and the size of the public economy matter: the monitoring effort of the original principals and the work effort of the ultimate agents decrease with the degree of publicness and the size of the public economy; (2) a corrupt public economy can be a Pareto-improvement over the non-corrupt public economy. The first finding sheds some light upon performance comparison between different public economies (such as between Singapore and China). The second finding explains why all socialist economies are corrupt ones. The paper applies the above results particularly to the Chinese economy. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998
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