Reference Terms
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Public services

A public service is a service which is provided by government to people living within its jurisdiction, either directly (through the public sector) or by financing private provision of services.

The term is associated with a social consensus (usually expressed through democratic elections) that certain services should be available to all, regardless of income.

Even where public services are neither publicly provided nor publicly financed, for social and political reasons they are usually subject to regulation going beyond that applying to most economic sectors.

Public service is also a course that can be studied at a college and/or university.

Public services tend to be those considered to be so essential to modern life that for moral reasons their universal provision should be guaranteed.

They may be associated with fundamental human rights (such as the right to water).

The Volunteer Fire Dept. and Ambulance Corps. are institutions with the mission of servicing the community.

A service is helping others with a specific need or want.

Here, service ranges from a doctor curing an illness, to a repair person, to a food pantry.

A public service may sometimes have the characteristics of a public good (being non-rivalrous and non-excludable), but most are services which may (according to prevailing social norms) be under-provided by the market.

In most cases public services are services, i.e. they do not involve manufacturing of goods.

They may be provided by local or national monopolies, especially in sectors which are natural monopolies.

They may involve outputs that are hard to attribute to specific individual effort and/or hard to measure in terms of key characteristics such as quality.

They often require high levels of training and education.

They may attract people with a public service ethos who wish to give something to the wider public or community through their work.

Note:   The above text is excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Public services", which has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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May 4, 2015

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