Alex Armand, Britta Augsburg, Antonella Bancalari, 09 August 2021

Community toilets in slums are often degraded, dirty, and poorly maintained, but upgrading facilities is difficult because of low willingness to pay among potential users and free riding. This column looks at community toilets in Uttar Pradesh, India, and asks whether externally incentivising maintenance can sustainably improve the quality of public infrastructure. Providing cash incentives to the caretaker and a one-time facility upgrade improved the quality of facilities and reduced free riding, but pushed more residents to practise open defecation, with poor public health outcomes. Fully subsidising basic services is important but measures are needed to prevent overcrowding and degradation.

Simeon Djankov, Eva (Yiwen) Zhang, 02 July 2021

The advent of online technology in public services has made one ingredient of effective state building – easy taxes – possible to achieve in developing economies. This column describes how, fuelled by new technology, the time that it takes businesses to comply with tax requirements has fallen on average by 91 hours a year and the average number of payments was cut by 11 in the past 15 years. Accommodating policies for expanding the tax base are also needed, so everyone sees the upside from online tax services.

Simon Wren-Lewis, 28 May 2018

Nava Ashraf, 26 October 2016

Delivering public services effectively is crucial for development. Nava Ashraf discusses her research on the importance of getting the right people for public sector jobs. This video was recorded at the International Growth Centre.

Marcel Fafchamps, Julien Labonne, 31 May 2016

Politicians may have the opportunity to interfere with the allocation of public services to help to achieve their electoral objectives. This column argues that politicians share rents with central players to build and sustain coalitions. Using detailed data from the Philippines, it examines social networks and the allocation of municipal services. Households with greater potential to broker political coalitions do indeed appear to receive more services from their municipal government. 

Paul Grout, 19 June 2009

Paul Grout of the Centre for Market and Public Organisation (University of Bristol) talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his report, Private Delivery of Public Services, which surveys the theory and evidence on three models of private sector involvement in the delivery of public services: privatisation; public-private partnerships; and not-for-profit organisations. The interview was recorded in Bristol in June 2009

Julian Le Grand, 24 August 2007

Properly designed public services whose delivery includes elements of choice and competition deliver higher quality and more efficient services, and are both more equitable and more responsive

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