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Water and Sanitation Utilities in the Global South: Re-centering the Debate on “Efficiencyâ€


  • Susan Spronk

    (University of Ottawa, Ottawa, CANADA,


This paper assesses the ideological arguments that sustain the belief that the private sector is more efficient than the public, which persist despite ambiguous empirical evidence. It argues that the privatization agenda rests on normative assumptions about “economic efficiency†that fail to adequately address the social goals of water and sanitation provision. The debate on “efficiency†should therefore be re-centered to consider “social efficiency†and the negative effect that privatization has on citizenship rights. JEL codes: A13, N70, Q25

Suggested Citation

  • Susan Spronk, 2010. "Water and Sanitation Utilities in the Global South: Re-centering the Debate on “Efficiencyâ€," Review of Radical Political Economics, Union for Radical Political Economics, vol. 42(2), pages 156-174, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:reorpe:v:42:y:2010:i:2:p:156-174

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Manuel Agosin & Roberto Machado, 2005. "Foreign Investment in Developing Countries: Does it Crowd in Domestic Investment?," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(2), pages 149-162.
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    Cited by:

    1. McDonald, David A., 2016. "To corporatize or not to corporatize (and if so, how?)," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 107-114.
    2. Mbuvi, Dorcas & Tarsim, Achraf, 2011. "Managerial ownership and urban water utilities efficiency in Uganda," MERIT Working Papers 036, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).

    More about this item


    privatization; efficiency; developing countries; urban water supply; unions;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • N70 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water


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