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Formula Funding of Public Services: An Economic Analysis

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  • Peter C. Smith
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    This paper discusses the economic implications of distributing funds for devolved public services using mechanical formulae. The rationale for using such methods is that they will contribute to the increased efficiency and equity of public services. By acting as arbiters in complex bargaining situations, they also serve important political objectives. The principles of formula funding are examined from an economic perspective, using a production-function approach. As well as yielding major benefits, formula funding has the potential for introducing perverse incentives and risk-avoidance behaviour, particularly among smaller units such as schools and general practices. Strategies for avoiding adverse outcomes are discussed, and the broader political context within which formula funding operates is examined. The paper ends with an assessment of the priorities for future developments in formula funding. Copyright 2003, Oxford University Press.

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    Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Oxford Review of Economic Policy.

    Volume (Year): 19 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 2 (Summer)
    Pages: 301-322

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    Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:19:y:2003:i:2:p:301-322
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