IEA Yearbook: better public services from increased spending?

Government plans to pour more money into 'public services' are unlikely to bear fruit unless resource allocation is improved, says Dr Peter Warburton, the editor of a new Yearbook of Government Performance from the Institute of Economic Affairs. In his view,

'Where poor resource allocation is delivering inferior or disappointing outcomes, there can be little confidence that higher spending allocations will produce a different result.' (page 18).

The Yearbook is an ambitious attempt to assemble evidence from Britain and around the world to show how taxation and government spending have been changing and to assess the effectiveness of government activity. Dr. Warburton investigates the scale and scope of government in Britain, over time and in comparison with other countries, and sets out indicators of government performance. The Yearbook considers not only macroeconomic questions but issues now at the centre of political discussion, such as health and education services, the welfare system, childcare and crime reduction.

Six introductory essays by leading commentators provide detailed discussions of key areas: measuring the size of the public sector, greater choice in health, the poverty trap, the scope for private education, the costs and benefits of imprisonment, and child care and adoption.

The purpose of the Yearbook, says Dr Warburton, is to help illuminate past government failures and successes and to 'penetrate the rosy glow with which thoughts of grander government are currently entertained.' (page 17)

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