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Quality of Government and Living Standards; Adjusting for the Efficiency of Public Spending

  • Francesco Grigoli
  • Eduardo Ley

It is generally acknowledged that the government’s output is difficult to define and its value is hard to measure. The practical solution, adopted by national accounts systems, is to equate output to input costs. However, several studies estimate significant inefficiencies in government activities (i.e., same output could be achieved with less inputs), implying that inputs are not a good approximation for outputs. If taken seriously, the next logical step is to purge from GDP the fraction of government inputs that is wasted. As differences in the quality of the public sector have a direct impact on citizens’ effective consumption of public and private goods and services, we must take them into account when computing a measure of living standards. We illustrate such a correction computing corrected per capita GDPs on the basis of two studies that estimate efficiency scores for several dimensions of government activities. We show that the correction could be significant, and rankings of living standards could be re-ordered as a result.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 12/182.

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Length: 21
Date of creation: 01 Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:12/182
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  1. Gupta, Sanjeev & Kangur, Alvar & Papageorgiou, Chris & Wane, Abdoul, 2014. "Efficiency-Adjusted Public Capital and Growth," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 164-178.
  2. Chaudhury, Nazmul & Hammer, Jeffrey S., 2003. "Ghost doctors - absenteeism in Bangladeshi health facilities," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3065, The World Bank.
  3. Dasgupta, Partha, 2001. "Human Well-Being and the Natural Environment," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199247882, March.
  4. Michael Kremer & Nazmul Chaudhury & F. Halsey Rogers & Karthik Muralidharan & Jeffrey Hammer, 2005. "Teacher Absence in India: A Snapshot," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 658-667, 04/05.
  5. Victoria Gunnarsson & Stéphane Carcillo & Marijn Verhoeven, 2007. "Education and Health in G7 Countries; Achieving Better Outcomes with Less Spending," IMF Working Papers 07/263, International Monetary Fund.
  6. Angus Deaton & Alan Heston, 2008. "Understanding PPPs and PPP-based national accounts," Working Papers 1120, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  7. Nazmul Chaudhury & Jeffrey Hammer & Michael Kremer & Karthik Muralidharan & F. Halsey Rogers, 2006. "Missing in Action: Teacher and Health Worker Absence in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 91-116, Winter.
  8. Isabelle Joumard & Christophe André & Chantal Nicq, 2010. "Health Care Systems: Efficiency and Institutions," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 769, OECD Publishing.
  9. Rajkumar, Andrew Sunil & Swaroop, Vinaya, 2008. "Public spending and outcomes: Does governance matter?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 96-111, April.
  10. Jean Spinks & Bruce Hollingsworth, 2009. "Cross-country comparisons of technical efficiency of health production: a demonstration of pitfalls," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(4), pages 417-427.
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