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Is big better? On scale and scope economies in the Portuguese water sector

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  • Marques, Rui Cunha
  • De Witte, Kristof

Abstract

The 'big is better' idea has recently been challenged in network industries. Scale economies are considered finite so that for the individual utility an optimal scale of operations arises. A similar observation yields for scope economies as joint production is not predicted univocally anymore. In the water sector, scale economies and joint production are preferred. Nevertheless, several countries are restructuring the sector in order to improve the scale and scope of operations. This article intends to provide some insights into this matter. We analyze the Portuguese water market structure using non-parametric techniques with data from the year 2005. After surveying the literature on scale and scope economies, we discuss the peculiarities of the Portuguese water sector. The paper confirms the natural monopoly features. Although scope economies are absent, it highlights scale economies. The optimal scale of the utilities is located between 160,000 and 180,000 inhabitants. As such, the Portuguese water sector optimally counts 60 water utilities.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economic Modelling.

Volume (Year): 28 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
Pages: 1009-1016

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecmode:v:28:y:2011:i:3:p:1009-1016

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/30411

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Keywords: Performance Portugal Scale economies Scope economies Water and wastewater utilities;

References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Michael Zschille, 2012. "Consolidating the Water Industry: An Analysis of the Potential Gains from Horizontal Integration in a Conditional Efficiency Framework," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1187, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  2. da Cruz, Nuno Ferreira & Marques, Rui Cunha, 2014. "Revisiting the determinants of local government performance," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 91-103.
  3. Andrea Guerrini & Giulia Romano & Bettina Campedelli, 2013. "Economies of Scale, Scope, and Density in the Italian Water Sector: A Two-Stage Data Envelopment Analysis Approach," Water Resources Management, Springer, vol. 27(13), pages 4559-4578, October.
  4. Romano, Giulia & Guerrini, Andrea, 2011. "Measuring and comparing the efficiency of water utility companies: A data envelopment analysis approach," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 202-209.

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