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What is a public service?

We explain what a public service is and the types that exist. In addition, examples of these services and their importance to society.

  1. What is a public service?

The  utilities  are a set of assets and activities, usually essential or basic type, through direct administration, subsidies or other regulatory mechanisms, a State guarantee your population , in order to provide better standard of living and protect equal opportunities among its citizens.

Public services are  usually paid for with taxpayers’ money , that is, with public money (public spending), which is why they are usually limited to those indispensable for contemporary life.

These services, then, are usually protected by the State and are considered a good of national interest , even when concessions are granted to the private company to administer said service. In some constitutions, they are even declared inalienable property of the State.

These types of services play an important role in mixed economy models , that is, they control the free market through rules of the game that tend to protect the most disadvantaged, as is the case in social economies or welfare states. In fact, access to public services  is one of the many factors taken into account when measuring human development indices (HDI).

Sometimes we can talk about semi-public services when it comes to privatized services but that have a certain margin of subsidy or protection from the State. The criterion for the differentiation between services that are to be public and those that are to be private often constitutes the debate between liberal (or neoliberal) positions and protectionist or developmentalist positions.

  1. Types of public services

Public services
Public transport is a basic service.

In general, public services can be classified as:

  • Emergency services . Those who attend to irregular situations in which the life and / or material properties of citizens are at risk.
  • Bureaucratic services . Those that have to do with the administration of the State and with the steps that citizens can or should do before it.
  • Basic services . Those indispensable for life in an organized society , and which are often taken directly home.
  1. Examples of public services

Public services
The administration of justice is a bureaucratic service.

Some examples of public services are:

  • Emergency services : citizen security (police), firefighters, military bodies, medical emergencies, rescuers, civil protection, etc.
  • Bureaucratic services: identification and immigration service, administration of justice , registration of university degrees, civil registry, notaries, tourist attention, commercial register, historical archives, public cultural management, etc.
  • Basic services : electricity, gas service, drinking water, Internet access , public transport, postal service, public education, health or public health service, solid waste collection, etc.

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