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Excess burden and the cost of inefficiency in public services provision

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  • António Afonso
  • Vítor Gaspar

Abstract

In this paper we revisit the literature on the economic consequences from inefficiency in public services provision. Following Dupuit (1844) and Pigou (1947) we argue that it is important to take the financing side explicitly into account. The fact that public expenditure financing must rely on distortional taxation implies that both direct and indirect costs are relevant when estimating the economic impacts of inefficiency in public services provision. Using Hicks’ compensating variation (following Diamond and McFadden (1974) and Auerbach (1985)) we show that these magnification mechanisms are not only conceptually relevant, they are also important from a quantitative point of view. Specifically, we rely on a range of estimates of public sector efficiency (from Afonso, Schuknecht and Tanzi (2005, 2006)) to illustrate numerically that the relative importance of indirect costs of public sector provision inefficiency, linked to financing through distortional taxation increases with the magnitude of the inefficiency.

Suggested Citation

  • António Afonso & Vítor Gaspar, 2006. "Excess burden and the cost of inefficiency in public services provision," Working Papers w200609, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ptu:wpaper:w200609
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. J. E. Stiglitz & P. Dasgupta, 1971. "Differential Taxation, Public Goods, and Economic Efficiency," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 151-174.
    2. 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.
    3. Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "Why do Americans work so much more than Europeans?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Jul, pages 2-13.
    4. 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.
    5. A. B. Atkinson & N. H. Stern, 1974. "Pigou, Taxation and Public Goods," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(1), pages 119-128.
    6. Atkinson, A. B. & Stiglitz, J. E., 1972. "The structure of indirect taxation and economic efficiency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 97-119, April.
    7. Auerbach, Alan J., 1985. "The theory of excess burden and optimal taxation," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 61-127 Elsevier.
    8. 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.
    9. Tanzi,Vito & Schuknecht,Ludger, 2000. "Public Spending in the 20th Century," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521662918, May.
    10. R. C. Geary, 1950. "A Note on "A Constant-Utility Index of the Cost of Living"," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(1), pages 65-66.
    11. Peter A. Diamond & J. A. Mirrlees, 1968. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production," Working papers 22, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    12. António Afonso & Ludger Schuknecht & Vito Tanzi, 2005. "Public sector efficiency: An international comparison," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 123(3), pages 321-347, June.
    13. Diamond, P. A. & McFadden, D. L., 1974. "Some uses of the expenditure function in public finance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 3-21, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Vitale, Paolo, 2006. "A Market Microstructure Analysis of Foreign Exchange Intervention," CEPR Discussion Papers 5468, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Robalo Marques, Carlos & Dias, Daniel & Santos Silva, João M. C., 2006. "Measuring the importance of the uniform nonsynchronization hypothesis," Working Paper Series 606, European Central Bank.
    3. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General

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