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The comparative advantage of public ownership: evidence from U.S. electric utilities

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  • John Kwoka
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    Abstract

    Studies of the performance effects of public vs private ownership have found mixed evidence. This paper draws on theory suggesting that public enterprise may have an advantage in producing goods and services whose quality attributes are difficult to specify a priori. Using a comprehensive data set of U.S. electric utilities to estimate cost functions, we find that while privately owned systems achieve lower costs in generation, public systems generally have an advantage in the end-user-oriented distribution function with its more non-contractible quality attributes. Other evidence on quality differences by ownership type and by enterprise size supports this distinction.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Canadian Economics Association in its journal Canadian Journal of Economics.

    Volume (Year): 38 (2005)
    Issue (Month): 2 (May)
    Pages: 622-640

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    Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:38:y:2005:i:2:p:622-640

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    Cited by:
    1. Nillesen, P. & Pollitt, M.G., 2008. "Ownership unbundling in electricity distribution: empircal evidence from New Zealand," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0836, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    2. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:6:y:2008:i:37:p:1-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Ngo Long & Frank Staehler, 2008. "How does state ownership affect optimal export taxes?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 6(37), pages 1-7.
    4. Fumagalli, Elena & Garrone, Paola & Grilli, Luca, 2007. "Service quality in the electricity industry: The role of privatization and managerial behavior," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(12), pages 6212-6224, December.
    5. Lehto, Eero, 2011. "Electricity prices in the Finnish retail market," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 2179-2192, April.
    6. Matthew Ellman, 2006. "Does privatising public service provision reduce accountability?," Economics Working Papers 997, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    7. Carley, Sanya, 2009. "Distributed generation: An empirical analysis of primary motivators," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 1648-1659, May.
    8. Ertürk, Mehmet & Türüt-AsIk, Serap, 2011. "Efficiency analysis of Turkish natural gas distribution companies by using data envelopment analysis method," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 1426-1438, March.

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