IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Income Distribution Determinants and Public Spending Efficiency


  • António Afonso
  • Ludger Schknecht
  • Vito Tanzi


In this paper we examine the impact of public spending, education, and institutions on income distribution in advanced economies. We also assess the efficiency of public spending in redistributing income by using a DEA (Data Envelopment Analysis) nonparametric approach. We find that public policies significantly affect income distribution, notably via social spending, and indirectly via high quality education/human capital and via sound economic institutions. Moreover, for our set of OECD countries, and within a two-step approach, several so-called non-discretionary factors help explaining public social spending inefficiencies.

Suggested Citation

  • António Afonso & Ludger Schknecht & Vito Tanzi, 2008. "Income Distribution Determinants and Public Spending Efficiency," Working Papers Department of Economics 2008/05, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.
  • Handle: RePEc:ise:isegwp:wp52008

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thomas Harjes, 2007. "Globalization and Income Inequality; A European Perspective," IMF Working Papers 07/169, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Fakin, Barbara & de Crombrugghe, Alain, 1997. "Field adjustments in transition economies : social transfers and the efficiency of public spending - a comparison with OECD countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1803, The World Bank.
    3. Fogel, Robert William, 2000. "The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226256627, March.
    4. António Afonso & Miguel St. Aubyn, 2005. "Non-parametric approaches to education and health efficiency in OECD countries," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 8, pages 227-246, November.
    5. A. B. Atkinson & A. Brandolini, 2009. "On data: a case study of the evolution of income inequality across time and across countries," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(3), pages 381-404, May.
    6. Hongyi Li & Danyang Xie & Heng-Fu Zou, 2000. "Dynamics of income distribution," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(4), pages 937-961, November.
    7. Afonso, Antonio & St. Aubyn, Miguel, 2006. "Cross-country efficiency of secondary education provision: A semi-parametric analysis with non-discretionary inputs," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 476-491, May.
    8. De Borger, Bruno & Kerstens, Kristiaan, 1996. "Cost efficiency of Belgian local governments: A comparative analysis of FDH, DEA, and econometric approaches," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 145-170, April.
    9. António Afonso & Vítor Gaspar, 2007. "Dupuit, Pigou and cost of inefficiency in public services provision," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 132(3), pages 485-502, September.
    10. Atkinson, A B, 1997. "Bringing Income Distribution in from the Cold," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(441), pages 297-321, March.
    11. António Afonso & Miguel St. Aubyn, 2006. "Relative Efficiency of Health Provision: a DEA Approach with Non-discretionary Inputs," Working Papers Department of Economics 2006/33, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.
    12. Charnes, A. & Cooper, W. W. & Rhodes, E., 1978. "Measuring the efficiency of decision making units," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 2(6), pages 429-444, November.
    13. Isabelle Joumard & Per Mathis Kongsrud & Young-Sook Nam & Robert W. R. Price, 2004. "Enhancing the Effectiveness of Public Spending: Experience in OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 380, OECD Publishing.
    14. Antonio Afonso & Ludger Schuknecht & Vito Tanzi, 2010. "Public sector efficiency: evidence for new EU member states and emerging markets," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(17), pages 2147-2164.
    15. Tanzi,Vito & Schuknecht,Ludger, 2000. "Public Spending in the 20th Century," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521662918, March.
    16. Amparo Castelló-Climent, 2010. "Inequality and growth in advanced economies: an empirical investigation," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 8(3), pages 293-321, September.
    17. Ales Bulir & Anne Marie Gulde, 1995. "Inflation and Income Distribution; Further Evidenceon Empirical Links," IMF Working Papers 95/86, International Monetary Fund.
    18. Gupta, Sanjeev & Verhoeven, Marijn, 2001. "The efficiency of government expenditure: experiences from Africa," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 433-467, May.
    19. Barro, Robert J, 2000. "Inequality and Growth in a Panel of Countries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 5-32, March.
    20. António Afonso & Ludger Schuknecht & Vito Tanzi, 2005. "Public sector efficiency: An international comparison," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 123(3), pages 321-347, June.
    21. Dyson, R. G. & Allen, R. & Camanho, A. S. & Podinovski, V. V. & Sarrico, C. S. & Shale, E. A., 2001. "Pitfalls and protocols in DEA," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 132(2), pages 245-259, July.
    22. Ruggiero, John, 2004. "Performance evaluation when non-discretionary factors correlate with technical efficiency," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 159(1), pages 250-257, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    income redistribution; public spending; efficiency; DEA.;

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ise:isegwp:wp52008. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Vitor Escaria). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.