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Hospital Industry Restructuring and Input Substitutability: Evidence from a Sample of Italian Hospitals

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Abstract

In this paper we investigate the economic rationality of the bed downsizing process characterising the hospital industry worldwide in the last decades, providing new evidence on the factor substitutability in the production of hospital services. We consider a sample of Italian regional producers and – differently from other studies – estimate a general cost function model, namely the Generalised Composite, firstly introduced by Pulley & Braunstein (1992). Alternative cost function specifications (included Translog) are estimated jointly with their associated input cost-share equations. For all models we derive Allen, Morishima and Shadow elasticities of substitution between input pairs, obtaining a fairly consistent picture across all specifications and elasticity concepts. More precisely, our results suggest a very limited degree of substitutability between factors in the production of hospital services (in particular, between beds and medical staff). These findings, consistent with previous evidence in the literature, suggest that a restructuring policy of the hospital industry which is confined to limiting the number of beds could not be a viable strategy for controlling the increase in public health care expenditure.

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Paper provided by Institute for Economic Research on Firms and Growth - Moncalieri (TO) in its series CERIS Working Paper with number 200703.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:csc:cerisp:200703

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Keywords: Public health care expenditure; Hospital industry downsizing; Input substitutability;

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  1. Daniel Bilodeau & Pierre-Yves Crémieux & Pierre Ouellette, 2002. "Hospital Technology in a Nonmarket Health Care System," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 68(3), pages 511-529, January.
  2. Jensen, Gail A & Morrisey, Michael A, 1986. "The Role of Physicians in Hospital Production," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(3), pages 432-42, August.
  3. Kumbhakar, Subal C. & Tsionas, Efthymios G., 2005. "Measuring technical and allocative inefficiency in the translog cost system: a Bayesian approach," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 126(2), pages 355-384, June.
  4. Gerald Granderson & C. A. Knox Lovell, 1998. "The Impact of Regulation on Input Substitution and Operating Cost," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 65(1), pages 83-97, July.
  5. Preyra, Colin & Pink, George, 2006. "Scale and scope efficiencies through hospital consolidations," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 1049-1068, November.
  6. Pulley, Lawrence B & Braunstein, Yale M, 1992. "A Composite Cost Function for Multiproduct Firms with an Application to Economies of Scope in Banking," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(2), pages 221-30, May.
  7. Giovanni Fraquelli & Massimiliano Piacenza & Davide Vannoni, 2005. "Cost Savings From Generation and Distribution with an Application to Italian Electric Utilities," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 289-308, November.
  8. Albert A. Okunade, 2003. "Are Factor Substitutions in HMO Industry Operations Cost Saving?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 69(4), pages 800-821, April.
  9. McElroy, Marjorie B., 1977. "Goodness of fit for seemingly unrelated regressions : Glahn's R2y.x and Hooper's r2," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 381-387, November.
  10. Kroneman, Madelon & Siegers, Jacques J., 2004. "The effect of hospital bed reduction on the use of beds: A comparative study of 10 European countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(8), pages 1731-1740, October.
  11. Vuong, Quang H, 1989. "Likelihood Ratio Tests for Model Selection and Non-nested Hypotheses," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 307-33, March.
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