Public Goods and Economic Development

Timothy Besley and Maitreesh Ghatak

in Understanding Poverty

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780195305197
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199783519 | DOI:
 Public Goods and Economic Development

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Despite overwhelming evidence that a large fraction of government expenditure on the provision of public goods in developing countries does not reach the intended beneficiaries, public policy debates often continue to revolve around “how much?” (i.e., how much money is spent by the government on some particular public good). Clearly, the question to ask is “how?” (i.e., how to design effective mechanisms for the delivery of public goods). This is the main theme of this essay. It discusses different kinds of public goods that are vital to the poor and the evidence of their value; the spontaneous or voluntary private provision of public goods by the beneficiaries; and the formal provision of public goods where the government or some other organization is in charge of providing the public good, with special emphasis on institution design issues.

Keywords: poor; developing countries; institution design; incentives; NGO; public sector contracting; competition

Chapter.  8179 words. 

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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