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Infrastructure Privatization and Regulation: Promises and Perils

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  • Ioannis N. Kessides

Abstract

Infrastructure is crucial for generating growth, alleviating poverty, and increasing international competitiveness. For much of the twentieth century and in most countries, the network utilities that delivered infrastructure services--such as electricity, natural gas, telecommunications, railroads, and water supply--were vertically and horizontally integrated state monopolies. But this approach often resulted in extremely weak services, especially in developing and transition economies and especially for poor people. Common problems included low productivity, high costs, bad quality, insufficient revenue, and shortfalls in investment. Over the past two decades many countries have implemented far-reaching institutional reforms--restructuring, privatizing, and establishing new approaches to regulation. This article identifies the challenges involved in this massive policy redirection within the historical, economic, and institutional context of developing and transition economies. It also reviews the outcomes of these policy changes, including their distributional consequences--especially for poor households and other disadvantaged groups. Drawing on a range of international experiences and empirical studies, it recommends directions for future reforms and research to improve infrastructure performance. Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Ioannis N. Kessides, 2005. "Infrastructure Privatization and Regulation: Promises and Perils," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 20(1), pages 81-108.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:20:y:2005:i:1:p:81-108
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Tan, Jeff, 2012. "The Pitfalls of Water Privatization: Failure and Reform in Malaysia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(12), pages 2552-2563.
    3. Walter Buhr, 2009. "Infrastructure of the Market Economy," Volkswirtschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 132-09, Universität Siegen, Fakultät Wirtschaftswissenschaften, Wirtschaftsinformatik und Wirtschaftsrecht.
    4. Agenor, Pierre-Richard & Nabli, Mustapha K. & Yousef, Tarik M., 2005. "Public infrastructure and private investment in the Middle East and North Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3661, The World Bank.
    5. Estache, Antonio & Rossi, Martin A., 2008. "Regulatory agencies : impact on firm performance and social welfare," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4509, The World Bank.
    6. Marco Schouten & Klaas Schwartz, 2006. "Water as a political good: implications for investments," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 407-421, December.
    7. Sanford Berg & Jacqueline Horrall, 2008. "Networks of regulatory agencies as regional public goods: Improving infrastructure performance," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 179-200, June.
    8. Sokolova, E., 2014. "Development of oil industry in Russia," Working Papers 6387, Graduate School of Management, St. Petersburg State University.

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