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Government Failure versus Market Failure: Microeconomic Policy Research And Government Performance Paperback – November 1, 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 130 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press and American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815793898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815793892
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #648,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Can government policies be made more effective? In Government Failure versus Market Failure, Clifford Winston provides a comprehensive analysis of a substantial range of government programs that could deliver more benefits at no greater cost if they were grounded in fundamental economic principles. Winston's superbly crafted critique cuts a broad swath through the entire range of Federal programs, with particular emphasis on how transportation policies and regulatory efforts should be overhauled. This should be required reading for all students and practitioners in the domestic policy field." —W. Kip Viscusi, Vanderbilt University

"I recommend Clifford Winston's new book." — Newmark's Door blog, 10/29/2006

"This is an important book." — Parkway Blog, 10/28/2006

"This authoritative and readable monograph provides much-needed balance in the implicit debate between those who hold that the public interest requires extensive government economic intervention and the position that free markets automatically solve all problems. Legislators and economists have focused on needs for intervention, but Winston shows that it sometimes does more harm than good, and its favored methods can be fonts of inefficiency." —William J. Baumol, Berkley Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, NYU

" Government Failure versus Market Failure is a remarkable little book. In it, Clifford Winston aggregates the lessons of dozens of scholarly empirical literatures on the efficiency of regulation, yet reaches an easy-to-summarize conclusion: regulation fails the cost-benefit test, with the exception of regulations against glaring externalities." —Bryan Caplan, Constitutional Political Economy

"An extremely valuable work that will reward careful readers. Communications policymakers should heed their lessons....Some twelve years after the Telecommunications Act of 1996, telecommunications policy is marked by extensive regulation... Government Failure versus Market Failure offers important lessons for how such reform should be implemented. Those charged with drafting and implementing it would do well to consult this volume." — Federal Communication Law Journal

"For those in government who are willing to listen, Government Failure versus Market Failure explains why much of what is being done for the public weal does not work well and, in some instances, does harm. For those in academia who are looking for a way to spice up their policy, government, and public administration courses, Government Failure versus Market Failure likely would prove to be an excellent vehicle for sparking spirited classroom debates." —Kevin R. Kosar, Public Administration Review


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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on February 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
Written by Clifford Winston (senior fellow in Economic Studies, Brookings Institution), Government Failure Versus Market Failure: Microeconomics Policy Research and Government Peformance examines three decades of empirical evidence in search of the answers to a critical question: When should government intervene in market activity, and when is it better to allow market forces to operate without interference? Chapters discuss such topics as antitrust regulations, policies intended to correct market failures, common Achilles heels of social goals policies, and much more. Drawing heavily upon the accumulated data, Government Failure Versus Market Failure strives to give today's economic policymakers and politicians recommendations for optimal success in future strategies to promote optimal well being both in terms of social and free-market interests. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By doug k on March 26, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It takes tremendous arrogance to pretend to have something useful to say about an important and huge topic such as this in 107 pages of very brief and superficial analyses. I have seen 20 page articles that do far better than this. One example (p.41) "researchers have found it difficult to link emission reductions with improvements in the health of residents in metropolitan areas." no footnote, no citation. Gosh, I wish I were a senior fellow somewhere, so I could make blanket statements like this.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Fods12 on December 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent survey of the evidence of the effectiveness of government programs and initiatives to overcome market failures. The author discusses the research of government effectiveness in all the major areas of economic policy intervention to correct market failures, including anti-trust laws, programs designed to increase consumer information about products, public provision of roads, railroads, postal service, etc, pollution taxes and regulations, other environmental regulations, consumer safety laws, workplace safety codes, advertising, labeling, patent law, and many other areas. He also briefly discusses the effectiveness of government social problems such as welfare benefits, but this is not his primary focus. Overall he concludes that most government programs have failed to fix the problems they were intended to, create more problems than they resolve, or even when they have produced benefits, they have generally done so in a much less efficient manner than would have been possible.

Throughout the book the author maintains a very balanced, scholarly tone, without making any excessive claims or over-the-top generalizations. Unlike many books of this sort, the author even declines to provide many specific policy recommendations, citing insufficient research in many areas. Although it is clear that the author has a general preference for 'free markets', he makes really no ideological claims in this regard, but sticks rigidly to the facts and available evidence.

I would like to disagree with a previous reviewer who said that the author makes claims without citations. In the specific example quoted by the reviewer, the author does actually provide a reference to 'Regulating the Automobile' (Crandell et. al. 1986).
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