The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons
When should a government provide a service inhouse and when should it contract out provision? We develop a model in which the provider can invest in improving the quality of service or reducing cost. If contracts are incomplete, the private provider has a stronger incentive to engage in both quality improvement and cost reduction than a government employee. However, the private contractor's incentive to engage in cost reduction is typically too strong because he ignores the adverse effect on non-contractible quality. The model is applied to understanding the costs and benefits of prison privatization.
|Date of creation:||Sep 1996|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 112, no. 4 (1997): 1126-1161.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
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