Are bureaucrats efficient? An application to the provision of AFDC
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The question on how bureaucrats behave in the provision of a public service has been the subject of a considerable amount of research, most of which has been largely theoretical and inconclusive, especially on the issue of efficiency. This paper builds a bureaucratic theoretical model and provides empirical evidence by examining the workings of a government bureau, supplying a public service, namely Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), at the state level. It builds and estimates a generalized short run cost function that allows for systematic relative price inefficiency and does not require cost minimization subject to market prices as a maintained hypothesis. The model tests cost minimization as a testable special case. The estimating procedure allows us to test for a number of other features of the technology that are of interest such as productivity growth, marginal costs, returns to scale, technical change, and factor demands. © 1996 Kluwer Academic Publishers.