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Ownership, Scale Economies and Efficiency in the Italian Water Sector

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  • Valeria Cosmo

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Abstract

The Italian water sector is characterized by the presence of several water companies, with different ownership types; Fabbri and Fraquelli (Empirica 27:65–82, 2000 ) and Antonioli and Filippini (Util Policy 10:181–187, 2001 ) have analyzed the presence of economies of scale and scope in the sector while Abrate et al. (Journal of Productivity Analysis 35:227–242, 2011 ) have assessed the role of the heterogeneity in this sector. In recent years, the Italian water sector has been subject to a large reorganization, following the implementation of the EC Directive 60/00 for the harmonization of the pricing rules and polluting principles of the Member States. However, the reorganization of the sector is far from being accomplished, and the Italian water companies still face strong regulatory uncertainty associated with the absence of an independent authority. The lack of clear regulatory principles and the presence of almost 100 different companies managed differently across the territory requires the re-analysis of the possible sources of inefficiencies, in order to understand what kind of policy measures might be implemented to improve the performance of the water utilities and take them into account when the final tariff is fixed. This paper estimates a stochastic frontier to empirically investigate the main sources of inefficiency for a sample of 65 Italian water companies. First, this paper investigates whether a positive relationship exists between the firm’s ownership type and efficiency by using different estimation methods; second, this paper investigates whether the presence of economies of scale in the Italian water sector still exist after the merging process that recently took place as part of the sector reorganization. The estimation results show that ownership is not related to the firm’s performance and that the Italian water sector is still characterized by the presence of economies of scale. This result indicates that local communities may benefit from merging into larger water districts. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Valeria Cosmo, 2013. "Ownership, Scale Economies and Efficiency in the Italian Water Sector," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 399-415, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jincot:v:13:y:2013:i:3:p:399-415
    DOI: 10.1007/s10842-012-0131-z
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    water sector; scale economies; cost efficiency; stochastic frontiers; L5; L95;

    JEL classification:

    • L5 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy
    • L95 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Gas Utilities; Pipelines; Water Utilities

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