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Does cutting back the public sector improve efficiency? Some evidence from 15 European countries

Sabrina Auci (), Laura Castellucci () and Manuela Coromaldi ()
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Manuela Coromaldi: University of Rome “Niccolò Cusano

No 274, CEIS Research Paper from Tor Vergata University, CEIS

Abstract: The successful development of the welfare state that transpired for three decades after WWII in the developed countries, came to a halt around the end of the 1980s. Since then, the number of articles and books dedicated to the crisis of the welfare state has increased. We can now assert that at the turn of the century, almost all industrialized countries had cut at least “some” entitlements in their welfare program along with other expenditure items, and the trend continued in the first decade of this century. To defend the cuts and possibly to justify continuing cuts, several economic reasons, both theoretical and empirical, have been highlighted. From mention of Baumol’s disease to the fiscal crisis, the support for making such decisions by governments gained momentum, with their political inspiration changing during the same period in favor of more conservative, right-wing positions. The low productivity of the public sector and the high level of tax burden were the substantial arguments used to support cuts. The aim of this paper is to provide an empirical investigation into the impact of retrenchment of the public sector on the performance of 15 European countries. In particular, we aim to empirically test the view that “big government” reduces a country's efficiency. We have found that no such empirical support exists. We have also included analysis of the distribution of income through the Gini index and have found the standard trade-off relation between inequality and efficiency.

Keywords: Stochastic frontier production function; public sector productivity; welfare (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D6 H11 H53 O4 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 22 pages
Date: 2013-04-30, Revised 2013-04-30
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eec, nep-eff, nep-his, nep-pbe and nep-pub
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (2)

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