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public finance, geography of

  Studies of geographical variations in the incidence of public sector income and expenditure. Bennett (1980) suggested that its particular focus should be the spatial imbalance between the geographies of revenue raising and public expenditure, producing a sub-discipline concerned with

how burdens and expenditure incidence vary as a function of geographical location. Who gets what benefits, and bears what burdens as a function of where they live:who gets what, where, at what cost? (p. ix)Such a focus is required within the broader study of public finance, Bennett argued, because needs, costs and preferences for various public goods vary spatially, among individuals and the local governments which provide them (cf. collective consumption), and if geographical redistribution is not undertaken to correct for such variations then spatial polarization of rich and poor (again, both individuals and local governments) will occur (cf. positive discrimination).

Bennett\'s detailed evaluation of the equity issues involved in tackling such differentials (according to him, \'Public finance in general and in its geographical components in particular, is aimed at eliminating, or at least reducing, the unequal treatment of individuals in society\'), and empirical studies of British local government finance mechanisms (Bennett, 1985), have been countered by later arguments that equity in the distribution of public goods is unattainable and their provision by the state apparatus should be much reduced (Bennett, 1989). (RJJ)

References and Suggested Reading Bennett, R.J. 1980: The geography of public finance: welfare under fiscal federalism and local government finance. London and New York: Methuen. Bennett, R.J. 1985: Central grants for local governments. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Bennett, R.J. 1989: Whither models and geography in a post-welfarist world? In B. Macmillan, ed., Remodelling geography. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell, 273-90. Pinch, S. 1997: Worlds of welfare: understanding the changing geographies of social welfare provision. London: Routledge.



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Other Terms : Sjoberg model | radical geography | rural-urban continuum
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