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Public Goods and Private Wants

A Psychological Approach to Government Spending Simon Kemp, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
How valuable to us are the activities of government? Public Goods and Private Wants explores psychological approaches to public economics in order to answer this question.
Extent: 208 pp
Hardback Price: $127.00 Web: $114.30
Publication Date: 2002
ISBN: 978 1 84064 973 4
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  • Economics and Finance
  • Behavioural and Experimental Economics
  • Economic Psychology
  • Public Choice Theory
  • Politics and Public Policy
  • Public Choice
How valuable to us are the activities of government? Public Goods and Private Wants explores psychological approaches to public economics in order to answer this question.

The contributions of economists and political scientists to the study of government spending are discussed, and subjective measures, largely derived from psychology, that could be used to evaluate government spending are considered. The author then uses empirical studies to explain how people value government goods and services, and what they appear to want the government to do. The results have implications for methods of valuing government services, the way people think about government spending and political processes.

This accessible and thought-provoking volume will be of interest to academics in the areas of economics, psychology and political science. Those concerned with government decision making will also find it of great value.
‘This is a highly readable account of individual attitudes towards government services written from a psychological perspective.’
– Alistair Munro, Journal of Economic Psychology

‘Kemp’s work is readily accessible to economists. He bridges the gap between psychology and economics with his expertise in both fields, and hopefully his innovative survey research will be taken up.’
– A. Stutzer, Journal of Economics/Zeitschrift für Nationalökonomie

‘In democracy, we ask people whom they would like to govern them. Simon Kemp shows how and why the same principle applies to the types and amounts of public goods that governments supply. If you seek solutions to public-sector supply-demand mismatch – read Kemp’s lively, topical treatise.’
– Shlomo Maital, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel
Contents: Preface 1. Introduction 2. Economics and Public Goods 3. Government Spending in Democracies 4. Quality of Life 5. Methods of Assessing Value 6. Psychophysical Scaling of Value 7. Taxation and its Relationship to Spending 8. Valuation and Knowledge of Cost 9. What Do People Want the Government to Undertake? 10. Conclusions References Index