The author considers the inadequacies of governmental activities from a particular point of view: inefficiencies and inequities that result from the conditions of demand for government activities in Western democracies, especially the United States. Criteria for evaluating the conditions of demand for government activities are identified. The author concludes that profound distortions can result from politically effective demands for government action or inaction. As a result, government programs may be initiated or expanded even though they are inefficient in a static sense, as well as inequitable in conferring special gains and privileges on politically effective groups, while imposing greater costs on politically less effective ones. Other programs may be expanded to a level where they become inefficient in a dynamic sense by undermining the incentives on which the economy's longer-term growth depends.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.
Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.