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The Private Provision of Public Services in Developing Countries (EDI Series in Economic Development) Paperback – February 9, 1989
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For almost thirty years in the so-called 'golden age' this was the route of choice for economic development. If it worked for industrialised countries, the logic ran, it will work for the less developed countries.
With voices of Peter Bauer, Basil Yamey and later Deepak Lal like prophets in the wilderness the only ones to dare to object to the new breed of development economists who's watchwords were import substitution and public works, the state moved forward in those countries too but if the truth were to be told the money rolled into the pockets of the ruling elites.
Gabriel Roth was another of those voices in the wilderness. In a 1966 publication for the free market Institute of Economic Affairs based in London he put forward a radical proposal for paying for roads. Ahead of his time by only about thirty years or so his radical proposal is now part of the mainstream in consideration of solving the problem of road congestion.
In this masterful book, Roth puts his engineering and economic skills to good use to look at the extent of the private provision of so-called 'public services' in the developing countries and finds, to no-ones real surprise that the private sector does it better. As if to labour the point, James Tooley in a more recent study, 'The Global Education Industry' has discovered the same thing.
This is an important study which should be reuired reading for all policy-makers from Presidents and Prime Ministers all the way down to local council members as it carries very important ramifications for the provision of services throughout the world.
I feel on solid ground to predict that in a few years time, all of the services currently provided for out of public funds ( taxation is such a weasel word is it not?)will instead be provided by private forms of organisations. Gabriel Roth will have performed the highest level of service for all individuals across the world.