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Sustainable Social Spending and Stagnant Public Services: Baumol's Cost Disease Revisited

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If demand for human services is inelastic or manufactured goods are necessities, labor shifts from manufacturing to services and the budget share of services rises. Higher productivity growth in the market sector pushes up the tax rate and public employment if private goods and public services are poor substitutes, labor supply is inelastic, and there are few dependents. Otherwise, private affluence and public squalor result. More dependents boost public employment if the market provides poor substitutes, but public services per dependent may fall due to tax base erosion. We also provide extensions to market and public employment being imperfect substitutes, to varying utility of money, and to public-sector productivity depending on pay.
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Keywords: BAUMOL'S COST DISEASE; CONGESTION; COST OF PUBLIC FUNDS; DEPENDENCY RATIO; WAGNER'S LAW

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2007

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  • As one of the world's oldest professional journals in public finance, founded in 1884, FinanzArchiv (FA) publishes original work from all fields of public economics which are of interest to an international readership, e.g. taxation, public debt, public goods, public choice, federalism, market failure, social policy, and the welfare state. Special emphasis is on high-quality theoretical and empirical papers on current policy issues.

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