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Measuring the Benefits from Public Services The Effects of Local Government Spending on the Distribution of Income in Norway




The purpose of this paper is to provide an evaluation of how local public in-kind benefits affect the distribution of income in Norway. To this end, a method that accounts for differences between municipalities in capacity to produce the same standard of public services is used for assessing the value of sector-specific local public services in each municipality. Next, the underlying justification of the various services is used as basis for determining the allocation of the assessed value of the services on the citizens in the municipalities. For instance, services like health care and care for the elderly and disabled are treated as an insurance arrangement. Thus, the corresponding in-kind benefits are allocated on the potential recipients. By contrast, the value of the production of education and child care is allocated uniformly on the families that receive these services. The empirical results show that the inequality in the (marginal) distribution of municipal in-kind benefits is rather high. The contribution of in-kind benefits to inequality in the distribution of extended income (cash (after-tax) income plus municipal in-kind benefits) is, however, approximately neutral. This result is due to the fact that elderly people and families with children receive the largest share of the municipal in-kind benefits and moreover are located in the central part of the distribution of extended income.

Suggested Citation

  • Rolf Aaberge & Audun Langørgen, 2003. "Measuring the Benefits from Public Services The Effects of Local Government Spending on the Distribution of Income in Norway," Discussion Papers 339, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:339

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ruggeri, G C & Van Wart, D & Howard, R, 1994. "The Redistributional Impact of Government Spending in Canada," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(2), pages 212-243.
    2. Gemmell, Norman, 1985. "The Incidence of Government Expenditure and Redistribution in the United Kingdom," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 52(27), pages 335-344, August.
    3. Aaberge, Rolf & Langorgen, Audun, 2003. "Fiscal and Spending Behavior of Local Governments: Identification of Price Effects When Prices Are Not Observed," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 117(1-2), pages 125-161, October.
    4. Audun Langørgen & Rolf Aaberge, 1999. "A Structural Approach for Measuring Fiscal Disparities," Discussion Papers 254, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    5. Aaberge, Rolf & Melby, Ingrid, 1998. "The Sensitivity of Income Inequality to Choice of Equivalence Scales," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 44(4), pages 565-569, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paulus, Alari & Sutherland, Holly & Tsakloglou, Panos, 2009. "The distributional impact of in kind public benefits in European countries," EUROMOD Working Papers EM10/09, EUROMOD at the Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    2. Markus M. Grabka & Gerlinde Verbist, 2015. "Non-cash benefits from social housing in Europe: a comparative perspective," ImPRovE Working Papers 15/07, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    3. repec:spr:epolit:v:34:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s40888-016-0052-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Ive Marx & Brian Nolan & Javier Olivera, 2014. "The Welfare State and Anti-Poverty Policy in Rich Countries," Working Papers 1403, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    5. Gerlinde Verbist & Michael Föster & Vaalavou, M., 2013. "GINI DP 74: The Impact of Publicly Provided Services on the Distribution of Resources: Review of New Results and Methods," GINI Discussion Papers 74, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    6. Christos Koutsampelas & Panos Tsakloglou, 2012. "The distribution of full income in Greece," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 03-2012, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.
    7. Øien Henning, 2013. "Do Local Governments Respond to (Perverse) Financial Incentives in Long-Term Care Funding Schemes?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 14(2), pages 525-549, August.
    8. Rolf Aaberge & Audun Langørgen & Petter Lindgren, 2013. "The distributional impact of public services in," Discussion Papers 746, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    9. Christos Koutsampelas & Panos Tsakloglou, 2013. "The distribution of full income in Greece," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 40(4), pages 311-330, March.
    10. Panos Pashardes & Nicoletta Pashourtidou, 2011. "Consumer welfare from publicly supplemented private goods: age and income effects on demand for health care," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 865-885, December.
    11. Aaberge, Rolf & Bhuller, Manudeep & Langørgen, Audun & Mogstad, Magne, 2010. "The distributional impact of public services when needs differ," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(9-10), pages 549-562, October.
    12. Verbist, G. (Gerlinde) & Matsaganis, M. (Manos), 2012. "GINI DP 53: The Redistributive Capacity of Services in the EU," GINI Discussion Papers 53, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    13. Aaberge, Rolf & Langørgen, Audun & Mogstad, Magne & Østensen, Marit, 2008. "The Impact of Local Public Services and Geographical Cost of Living Differences on Poverty Estimates," IZA Discussion Papers 3686, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Alari Paulus & Holly Sutherland & Panos Tsakloglou, 2010. "The distributional impact of in-kind public benefits in European countries," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(2), pages 243-266.
    15. Amedeo Spadaro & Lucia Mangiavacchi & Ignacio Moral-Arce & Marta Adiego-Estella & Angela Blanco-Moreno, 2013. "Evaluating the redistributive impact of public health expenditure using an insurance value approach," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 14(5), pages 775-787, October.
    16. Antonio Jurado & Jesus Perez-Mayo & Francisco Pedraja, 2016. "The Impact of Public Services Expenditure on the Spanish Income Distribution," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 127(1), pages 217-241, May.
    17. Rolf Aaberge & Anthony B. Atkinson, 2008. "Top Incomes in Norway," Discussion Papers 552, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    18. repec:tur:wpaper:8 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Francesco Scervini, 2009. "Political Economy of Director's Law: How Sincere Voters Decide on Cash and In-kind Redistribution in a Costly Political Framework," Working papers 08, Former Department of Economics and Public Finance "G. Prato", University of Torino.
    20. Hillringhaus, Tilman & Peichl, Andreas, 2010. "Die Messung von Armut unter Berücksichtigung regional divergierender Lebenshaltungskosten und öffentlicher Leistungen," IZA Discussion Papers 5344, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    Income distribution; local public finance;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures

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