ISBN is

9780387188249 / 038718824X

Welfare and Efficiency in Public Economics

by

Publisher:Springer-Verlag, 1988

Edition:Hardcover

Language:English

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About the book:

This book contains 15 selected and revised papers presented at a conference in Neresheim, West Germany, in June 1986. Prof. H.W. Sinn writes in his introduction to the book: "The common topic is measurement of welfare, both from efficiency and from equity perspectives. For many economists, welfare is a diffuse, arbitrary and ambiguous concept. The papers collected in this book show that this view is not justified. Though not beyond all doubt, welfare theory today is crisp and clear, offering fairly straightforward measuring concepts. It even comes up with numbers that measure society's advantage or disadvantage from specific policy options in monetary units. Politicians get something they can intuitively understand and argue with, and they do not have to be afraid that all this is metaphysics or the result of the scientist's personal value judgements. Some economists, whom I would classify as belonging to the "everything is optimal" school, would claim that providing politicians with numerical welfare measures is superfluous or even dangerous. The world is as it is, and any attempt to give policy advice can only make things worse. I do not share this view. There are good policies and there are bad ones, but it may not be easy to distinguish between them. There is a role for consulting politicians, Dr. Pangloss, or do you go shopping without thinking because you believe whatever you are going to buy is what you wanted anyway? Certainly, everyone knows that political decision processes are not all that rational and that there is a lot of slack in the public sector. This does not imply, however, that no attempt should be made to bring a bit more rationality and objectivity into public policy debates. Measurement of welfare helps to do that."

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