Exits, voices and social investment : citizens' reaction to public services


Exits, voices and social investment : citizens' reaction to public services

Keith Dowding and Peter John

(Theories of institutional design)

Cambridge University Press, 2015

  • : pbk

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"First published 2012. First paperback edition 2015" -- T.p. verso

Includes bibliographical references (p. 175-187) and index



Over fifty years ago, Albert Hirschman argued that dissatisfied consumers could either voice complaint or exit when they were dissatisfied with goods or services. Loyal consumers would voice rather than exit. Hirschman argued that making exit easier from publicly provided services, such as health or education, would reduce voice, taking the richest and most articulate away and this would lead to the deterioration of public services. This book provides the first thorough empirical study of these ideas. Using a modified version of Hirschman's account, examining private and collective voice, and viewing loyalty as a form of social investment, it is grounded on a dedicated five-year panel study of British citizens. Given government policies over the past decade or more which make exit easier from public providers, this is a timely publication for all those who care about the quality of government services.


  • 1. Hirschman's original idea
  • 2. Exits, voices and the object of loyalty
  • 3. Exit, voice, loyalty and neglect
  • 4. The structure of UK public services and some simple relationships
  • 5. Evidence of the major EVL relationships
  • 6. Exit, voice and welfare
  • Appendix A. Summary of the empirical literature testing EVL
  • Appendix B. Note on statistical methods
  • Appendix C. The survey instrument.

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