Efficiency of Public Spending in Education, Health, and Infrastructure: An International Benchmarking Exercise

93 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2018

Date Written: September 13, 2018

Abstract

Governments of developing countries typically spend between 20 and 30 percent of gross domestic product. Hence, small changes in the efficiency of public spending could have a major impact on aggregate productivity growth and gross domestic product levels. Therefore, measuring efficiency and comparing input-output combinations of different decision-making units becomes a central challenge. This paper gauges efficiency as the distance between observed input-output combinations and an efficiency frontier estimated by means of the Free Disposal Hull and Data Envelopment Analysis techniques. Input-inefficiency (excess input consumption to achieve a level of output) and output-inefficiency (output shortfall for a given level of inputs) are scored in a sample of 175 countries using data from 2006-16 on education, health, and infrastructure. The paper verifies empirical regularities of the cross-country variation in efficiency, showing a negative association between efficiency and spending levels and the ratio of public-to-private financing of the service provision. Other variables, such as inequality, urbanization, and aid dependency, show mixed results. The efficiency of capital spending is correlated with the quality of governance indicators, especially regulatory quality (positively) and perception of corruption (negatively). Although no causality may be inferred from this exercise, it points at different factors to understand why some countries might need more resources than others to achieve similar education, health, and infrastructure outcomes.

Keywords: Educational Sciences, Health Care Services Industry, Public Sector Economics, Public Financial Management, Public Finance Decentralization and Poverty Reduction, Leprosy, Tuberculosis, Communicable Diseases, Cholera, Population & Development

Suggested Citation

Herrera, Santiago and Ouedraogo, Abdoulaye, Efficiency of Public Spending in Education, Health, and Infrastructure: An International Benchmarking Exercise (September 13, 2018). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8586. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3249289

Santiago Herrera (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Abdoulaye Ouedraogo

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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