Privatization of public-sector services in theory and practice


  • Janet Rothenberg Pack


The last ten years have seen a marked increase in the analysis and implementation of private-sector alternatives to the production of public-sector services. The impetus for privatization has two sources: (1) opposition to further growth of the public sector, and (2) the belief that the private sector would be a more efficient producer. Yet as privatization moves beyond the acquisition of intermediate goods and services (payroll processing and housekeeping services, for example) to more complex public outputs (such as education, social security, public safety, the postal system, for example), it is subject to increasing challenge on both efficiency and equity grounds. Nonetheless, private alternatives to public production are finding increased acceptance.