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Nonparametric tests of optimizing behavior in public service provision: Methodology and an application to local safety

  • Laurens Cherchye

    ()

  • Bruno De Borger

    ()

  • Tom Van Puyenbroeck

    ()

We develop a positive non-parametric model of public sector production that allows us to test whether an implicit procedure of cost minimization at shadow prices can rationalize the outcomes of public sector activities. The basic model focuses on multiple C-outputs and does not imply any explicit or implicit assumption regarding the trade-offs between the different inputs (in terms of relative shadow prices) or outputs (in terms of relative valuation). The proposed methodology is applied to a cross-section sample of 546 Belgian municipal police forces. Drawing on detailed task-allocation data and controlling, among others, for the presence of state police forces, the cost minimization hypothesis is found to provide a good fit of the data. Imposing additional structure on output valuation, derived from available ordinal information, yields equally convincing goodness-of-fit results. By contrast, we find that aggregating the labor input over task specializations, a common practice in efficiency assessments of police departments, entails a significantly worse fit of the data.

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Paper provided by Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën, Working Group Public Economics in its series Public Economics Working Paper Series with number ces0416.

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Length: 29 pp.
Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpe:papers:ces0416
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  1. Hayes, Kathy J & Razzolini, Laura & Ross, Leola B, 1998. " Bureaucratic Choice and Nonoptimal Provision of Public Goods: Theory and Evidence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 94(1-2), pages 1-20, January.
  2. Thanassoulis, Emmanuel, 1995. "Assessing police forces in England and Wales using data envelopment analysis," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 87(3), pages 641-657, December.
  3. Afriat, Sidney N, 1972. "Efficiency Estimation of Production Function," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 13(3), pages 568-98, October.
  4. Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Policeon Crime," NBER Working Papers 4991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. M. Stone, 2002. "How not to measure the efficiency of public services (and how one might)," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 165(3), pages 405-434.
  8. Richard Blundell & Martin Browning & Ian Crawford, 1998. "Nonparametric Engel Curves and Revealed Preference," Discussion Papers 99-07, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  9. Ruggiero, John, 1996. "On the measurement of technical efficiency in the public sector," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 90(3), pages 553-565, May.
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  11. Leigh Drake & Richard Simper, 2002. "X-efficiency and scale economies in policing: a comparative study using the distribution free approach and DEA," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(15), pages 1859-1870.
  12. Grosskopf, S. & Hayes, K. & Hirschberg, J., 1995. "Fiscal stress and the production of public safety: A distance function approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 277-296, June.
  13. Kuosmanen, Timo & Cherchye, Laurens & Sipilainen, Timo, 2006. "The law of one price in data envelopment analysis: Restricting weight flexibility across firms," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 170(3), pages 735-757, May.
  14. Atakelty Hailu & Terrence S. Veeman, 2001. "Non-parametric Productivity Analysis with Undesirable Outputs: An Application to the Canadian Pulp and Paper Industry," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 83(3), pages 605-616.
  15. Snyder, Susan K., 1999. "Testable restrictions of Pareto optimal public good provision," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 97-119, January.
  16. Grossman, Philip J. & Mavros, Panayiotis & Wassmer, Robert W., 1999. "Public Sector Technical Inefficiency in Large U.S. Cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 278-299, September.
  17. Ziggy MacDonald, 2002. "Official Crime Statistics: Their Use and Interpretation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(477), pages F85-F106, February.
  18. Hanoch, Giora & Rothschild, Michael, 1972. "Testing the Assumptions of Production Theory: A Nonparametric Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 256-75, March-Apr.
  19. Ruggiero, John, 1996. "Efficiency of Educational Production: An Analysis of New York School Districts," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(3), pages 499-509, August.
  20. Afriat, S N, 1973. "On a System of Inequalities in Demand Analysis: An Extension of the Classical Method," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(2), pages 460-72, June.
  21. van Tulder, Frank, 1994. "Law Enforcement, Production and the Decision-Making Process: An Analysis of Dutch Police-Departments," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(Supplemen), pages 259-76.
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