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Private businesses are often entrusted with public contracts, wherein public money is allocated to a private company. This process raises concerns about transparency, even in the most developed democracies. But are there any regularities guiding this process? Do all private companies benefit equally from the state budgets?
Here, we tackle these questions focusing on the case of Slovenia, which keeps excellent records of this kind of public spending. We examine a dataset detailing every transfer of public money to the private sector from January 2003 to May 2020. During this time, Slovenia has conducted business with no less than 248 989 private companies.
We find that the cumulative distribution of money received per company can be reasonably well explained by a power-law or lognormal fit. We also show evidence for the first-mover advantage, and determine that companies receive new funding in a way that is roughly linear over time.
These results indicate that, despite all human factors involved, Slovenian public spending is at least to some extent regulated by emergent self-organizing principles.