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Privatization And Poverty: The Distributional Impact of Utility Privatization


  • K. Bayliss


This article examines the effects on poverty of privatization, an impact to which donors have given little attention in their concern with efficiency and markets. The analysis of the distributional impact of privatization activities draws on empirical cases in the utilities sector in a wide range of developing economies, principally in Africa and Latin America. After a critical consideration of the World Bank position on privatization strategies, and the arguments presented by donors on the pro-poor effects of these economic reforms, the article turns to the negative distributional effects. It is argued that privatization has demonstrably damaged the poor, whether through loss of employment and income, or through exclusion from, or reduced access to, basic services. This is mainly because private firms are principally concerned with profits, prices and costs, and are highly selective as to sectors and types of consumer. Meanwhile, the weakness of governance and regulatory capacity in many developing countries lead to poor control of market abuses. The article concludes by proposing that donors should take more account of local variations in state-market relations, and be prepared to give consideration to alternative economic strategies where privatization is not working as intended. Copyright 2002 CIRIEC.

Suggested Citation

  • K. Bayliss, 2002. "Privatization And Poverty: The Distributional Impact of Utility Privatization," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 73(4), pages 603-625, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:annpce:v:73:y:2002:i:4:p:603-625

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1998. "Cooperatives vs. Outside Ownership," NBER Working Papers 6421, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 1999. "Unforeseen Contingencies and Incomplete Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 83-114.
    3. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1996. "The Governance of Exchanges: Members' Cooperatives versus Outside Ownership," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(4), pages 53-69, Winter.
    4. Jonathan Levin, 2002. "A Theory of Partnerships," Theory workshop papers 505798000000000002, UCLA Department of Economics.
    5. Jean Tirole, 1999. "Incomplete Contracts: Where Do We Stand?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(4), pages 741-782, July.
    6. Schmitz, Patrick W, 2001. "The Hold-up Problem and Incomplete Contracts: A Survey of Recent Topics in Contract Theory," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(1), pages 1-17, January.
    7. Bonin, John P & Jones, Derek C & Putterman, Louis, 1993. "Theoretical and Empirical Studies of Producer Cooperatives: Will Ever the Twain Meet?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(3), pages 1290-1320, September.
    8. Michael Kremer, 1997. "Why are Worker Cooperatives So Rare?," NBER Working Papers 6118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alberto Chong & Florencio de, 2003. "The Truth about Privatization in Latin America," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm436, Yale School of Management.
    2. Komendantova, Nadejda & Patt, Anthony & Barras, Lucile & Battaglini, Antonella, 2012. "Perception of risks in renewable energy projects: The case of concentrated solar power in North Africa," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 103-109.
    3. Alberto E. Chong & Florencio López-de-Silanes, 2004. "Privatization in Mexico," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 1538, Inter-American Development Bank.
    4. David Parker & Colin Kirkpatrick, 2005. "Privatisation in Developing Countries: A Review of the Evidence and the Policy Lessons," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(4), pages 513-541.
    5. Ananya Reed & Darryl Reed, 2009. "Partnerships for Development: Four Models of Business Involvement," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 90(1), pages 3-37, May.
    6. Poggi, Ambra & Florio, Massimo, 2010. "Energy deprivation dynamics and regulatory reforms in Europe: Evidence from household panel data," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 253-264, January.
    7. Antonio Estache & Liam Wren-Lewis, 2009. "Toward a Theory of Regulation for Developing Countries: Following Jean-Jacques Laffont's Lead," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(3), pages 729-770, September.
    8. Antonio Rodriguez & Carlyn Ramlogan, 2007. "Corruption, privatisation and the distribution of income in Latin America," Development Research Working Paper Series 09/2007, Institute for Advanced Development Studies.
    9. Antonio Estache & L. Wren-Lewis, 2008. "Towards a Theory of Regulation for Developing Countries: Following Laffont's Lead," Working Papers ECARES 2008_018, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

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