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Enhancing the Efficiency of Water Supply—Product Market Competition Versus Trade

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  • Reto Foellmi

    ()

  • Urs Meister

    ()

Abstract

In most developed countries, the provision of water is organized at a local level. The costs and tariffs vary significantly, even between adjacent water utilities. Such heterogeneity is an obvious indication of the sector’s overall inefficiency and stresses a need for institutional adjustments. We show that cooperation by water trade and the introduction of competition by common carriage between adjacent utilities are valuable alternatives to improve the industry’s efficiency, even when mergers are not feasible. Because both approaches require the physical connection of neighboring networks, they may have similar effects. This paper analyzes and compares the relevant welfare gains and shows that production efficiency and retail prices may differ depending on the initial cost differential, the application of regulations and the distribution of bargaining power. Using a theoretical model, we show that at higher initial production cost differentials, welfare is higher under competitive conditions, even in a lowerbound benchmark case without any regulation.
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Suggested Citation

  • Reto Foellmi & Urs Meister, 2012. "Enhancing the Efficiency of Water Supply—Product Market Competition Versus Trade," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 299-324, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jincot:v:12:y:2012:i:3:p:299-324
    DOI: 10.1007/s10842-011-0100-y
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    water; networks; product-market competition; trade; bargaining; L95; L43; D21; Q25;

    JEL classification:

    • L95 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Gas Utilities; Pipelines; Water Utilities
    • L43 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Legal Monopolies and Regulation or Deregulation
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water

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