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A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Privatization of Canadian National Railway

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  • Anthony E. Boardman
  • Claude Laurin
  • Mark A. Moore
  • Aidan R. Vining

Abstract

This article uses cost-benefit analysis to estimate the welfare gains from the privatization of Canadian National Railway (CN) in November 1995, one of the largest rail privatizations in history. It also shows how these gains have been distributed among consumers, producers, and government, and between Canadians and non-Canadians. The article uses the costs of Canadian Pacific Railway to create a more credible comparison than in previous privatization studies. Based on a conservative counterfactual, we estimate that CN's privatization generated welfare gains of at least $4 billion (in 1992 dollars). However, the welfare gain was possibly as high as $15 billion. The Canadian government captured almost half of these gains, while CN shareholders captured most of the rest.

Suggested Citation

  • Anthony E. Boardman & Claude Laurin & Mark A. Moore & Aidan R. Vining, 2009. "A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Privatization of Canadian National Railway," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 35(1), pages 59-83, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:35:y:2009:i:1:p:59-83
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3138/cpp.35.1.59
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Ephraim W. Chirwa, 2004. "Industry and firm effects of privatization in Malawian oligopolistic manufacturing," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 277-289, June.
    3. Mark A. Moore & Anthony E. Boardman & Aidan R. Vining & David L. Weimer & David H. Greenberg, 2004. "“Just give me a number!” Practical values for the social discount rate," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(4), pages 789-812.
    4. Laurin, Claude & Bozec, Yves, 2001. "Privatization and productivity improvement: the case of Canadian National," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 355-374, November.
    5. Claude Laurin & Anthony E. Boardman & Aidan R. Vining, 2004. "Government Underpricing of Share-Issue Privatizations," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 75(3), pages 399-429, September.
    6. Boardman, Anthony E & Vining, Aidan R, 1989. "Ownership and Performance in Competitive Environments: A Comparison of the Performance of Private, Mixed, and State-Owned Enterprises," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 1-33, April.
    7. Narjess Boubakri & Jean-Claude Cosset, 1998. "The Financial and Operating Performance of Newly Privatized Firms: Evidence from Developing Countries," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(3), pages 1081-1110, June.
    8. Michael G. Pollitt & Andrew S. J. Smith, 2002. "The restructuring and privatisation of British Rail: was it really that bad?," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 23(4), pages 463-502, December.
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    10. De Alessi, Louis, 1969. "Implications of Property Rights for Government Investment Choices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(1), pages 13-24, March.
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    12. Wallsten, Scott J, 2001. "An Econometric Analysis of Telecom Competition, Privatization, and Regulation in Africa and Latin America," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(1), pages 1-19, March.
    13. Leroy P. Jones & Pankaj Tandon & Ingo Vogelsang, 1990. "Selling Public Enterprises: A Cost/Benefit Methodology," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262600625, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wolf, C. & Pollitt, M.G., 2009. "The Welfare Implications of Oil Privatisation: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Norway’s Statoil," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0912, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    2. Anthony E. Boardman & Aidan R. Vining, 2010. "Assessing the Economic Worth of Public–Private Partnerships," Chapters,in: International Handbook on Public–Private Partnerships, chapter 8 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Preston, John & Robins, Dawn, 2013. "Evaluating the long term impacts of transport policy: The case of passenger rail privatisation," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 14-20.
    4. Boardman, Anthony E. & Vining, Aidan R. & Weimer, David L., 2016. "The long-run effects of privatization on productivity: Evidence from Canada," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 1001-1017.
    5. Matthew Calver & Fanny McKellips, 2016. "Productivity Trends in the Canadian Transport Sector: An Overview," CSLS Research Reports 2016-04, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    6. Le, Hoang Cuong & Cabalu, Helen & Salim, Ruhul, 2014. "Winners and losers in Vietnam equitisation programs," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 172-184.

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