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Privatization

Privatization refers to the shift of functions and responsibilities, in whole or in part, from the public to the private sector. Its best-known form is the transfer of state-owned assets and enterprises to private hands, while another takes the form of the granting of long-term franchises or concessions by government, under which the private sector finances, builds, and operates major infrastructure. The best-known American form of privatization is the outsourcing or competitive contracting of public services. Some theorists also consider the issuance of government vouchers as a form of privatization, in which government provides the purchasing power to an eligible subset of citizens, who are then free to select their own service provider.

Although the specific application of privatization dates back to the 18th century (with ...

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