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Cities and Network Public-Utilities Services: Characteristics, Effects, and Financing


  • Lanfranco Senn


Network public-utilities services, i.e. those services that are usually called "public utilities " or "urban services ", are increasingly considered a crucial factor for the attractiveness of cities. They play a "cumulative " role in urban growth. In fact, the more a city offers high quality services, the more it is attractive; and the more it grows, the more it needs to provide and expand its service supply. Efficient services, if they are based and supported by modern infrastructural networks, are important factors for the quality of life and for working activities in cities, especially when the urban size increases and positive external economies might turn into diseconomies of congestion. If this is valid for urban transport, it is also true for energy provision, water and waste management. However, the growth rate and the diffusion of urban services (infrastructure and service capillarity, for example in the most peripheral urban areas) hardly keep pace with the growth of cities, especially for the most dynamic ones, those which for many reasons (employment, social and cultural aspects) are, or at least seem to be, more attractive. It is always useful to recognize who directly or indirectly benefits from the positive externalities generated by the development of network public-utility services in order to ask him, in an explicit and fair way, to compensate for the benefits through innovative financing schemes (value capture, scope taxes). This work provides an attempt of reasoning in this perspective in order to induce a debate on the forms and on the ways of its implementation.

Suggested Citation

  • Lanfranco Senn, 2007. "Cities and Network Public-Utilities Services: Characteristics, Effects, and Financing," Economia dei Servizi, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 2, pages 287-310.
  • Handle: RePEc:mul:j1t56u:doi:10.2382/24376:y:2007:i:2:p:287-310

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