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Public Spending and the Role of the State
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Book description

Given high government spending, debt and the new challenges on the horizon, the themes of this work are more relevant than ever: the essential tool of spending by the state, its 'value for money', likely risks in the future, and the remedies to create lean, efficient and sustainable government. This book takes a holistic and international approach, covering most advanced countries, and discusses a historical overview of public expenditure, from the nineteenth century to the modern day, as well as future challenges. It sees the government's role as providing sound rules of the game and essential public goods and services. In presenting the relevant arguments, information and policy recommendations through comprehensive tables, charts and historical facts, the book addresses a broad readership, including students, professionals and interested members of the public.


‘Ludger Schuknecht has provided a forceful and forensic examination of longer-term trends in the development of the fiscal state, coupled with a judicious survey of different measures for assessing the effectiveness of expenditure. The appeal for a rules-based approach, and the warning on the long-term consequences of higher debt levels, is more important than ever.’

Harold James - Princeton University

‘In many industrialised countries, people expect more and more from their governments. This has led to pressures on government finances - in particular, growing levels of public debt and a crowding out of public investment by growing social expenditure. Ludger Schuknecht’s book is a fascinating description and analysis of these trends. It should be read by both policymakers and academics.’

Clemens Fuest - Institute for Economic Research

‘This is a most timely volume on the role of the public sector in modern societies, comprehensive and well researched. Ludger Schuknecht, who has a solid experience in economic policymaking, presents a panoramic view of the enormous growth of public expenditures in the past 150 years and of the wide scope of present-day government activities. A major strength of the book is its consistent use of cross-country comparisons, demonstrating wide differences in the size and performance of the public sector. He asks the fundamental question: what should governments do and how should they do it? And he dares to provide an answer to this highly contentious issue. In sum, this a comprehensive and balanced account that deserves serious attention - by social scientists as well as by all camps across the political spectrum.’

Lars Jonung - Lund University

‘This wonderful book deals with the growing role of public expenditure, and the function of governments as such. It is comprehensive, covering all OECD countries and overseeing a long period of time. A very rich set of data is presented in terms of graphs and tables, and the author's profound knowledge of economic theory at the same time offers a framework for understanding and evaluating a complex reality. For those who want to understand the basic trends of our time, the book is a must-read.’

Hans-Werner Sinn - Ludwig Maximilian's University, Munich, Former President of IFO

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