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Principled Agents?The Political Economy of Good Government$
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Timothy Besley

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199283910

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199283910.001.0001

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The anatomy of government failure

The anatomy of government failure

(p.45) 2 The anatomy of government failure
Principled Agents?

Timothy Besley

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on government failure. Most economists now agree that the idea of government failure needs to be placed alongside the idea of market failure in discussions of government intervention. However, unlike market failure, there is no agreed upon definition of government failure. The economics literature is also obscure on which aspects of government failure are intrinsic to the fact that government has a monopoly of coercive power and which aspects are consequences of democratic political competition. The chapter provides an overview of these ideas and develops some simple economic examples to illustrate the main ideas.

Keywords:   government failure, government intervention, political failure, market failure, political competition, coercive power

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