© 2009 International Monetary F
IMF Working Paper
Fiscal Affairs Department
Where Does the Public Sector End and the Private Sector Begin?Prepared by Ian Lienert
Authorized for distribution by Michel LazareJune 2009
This Working Paper should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF.
The views expressedin this Working Paper are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy.Working Papers describe research in progress by the author and are published to elicit comments and further debate.
The boundary between the public and private sectors can be defined on the basis of ownershipof institutional units. Nonmarket government-owned entities and corporations that are ownedor controlled by government units belong to the public sector. “Economic ownership” is moreimportant than majority ownership. Joint ventures, public-private partnerships, and socialinsurance funds (including for public employees) can be unambiguously allocated to the public or private sector on the basis of international public sector accounting standards.Boundary problems
the public sector are just as acute as those
the public and private sectors, mainly because of ambiguities in distinguishing “market” from “nonmarket”activities.JEL Classification Numbers:Keywords: Public sector, private sector, general government, market, nonmarketAuthor
This paper was first presented at the 16
International Symposium of the Review
Politiques et Management Public
, held in Florence, Italy, March 2007. For this revised version, the author wishes to thank particularly V.Marie (STA), R. Allen, M. Lazare (FAD) and other IMF colleagues who provided useful comments on earlier versions of the paper. Remaining errors are the author’s.