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When and why might choice in public services have intrinsic (dis)value?
Aveek Bhattacharya
July 2020
Paper No' CASE/220:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: I0; I31; I38

Tags: choice; intrinsic value; quasi-markets

Governments in several countries have sought to increase choice in public services. Proponents claim the value of such choice is both instrumental (it improves outcomes) and intrinsic (choice is valuable in itself). Yet while the instrumental benefits of such measures are strongly contested, the supposed intrinsic value of public service choice is both normatively and empirically underexplored. This paper draws on the philosophical and psychological literature on the costs and benefits of choice to identify why and under what circumstances choice in public services might have intrinsic value (or indeed, disvalue). Through this process, it develop a framework of empirical questions that can be used to analyse the intrinsic (dis)value of particular choice reforms.