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The Great Divestiture: Evaluating the Welfare Impact of the British Privatizations, 1979-1997

Author

Listed:
  • Massimo Florio

    () (University of Milan)

Abstract

The privatization carried out under the Thatcher and Major governments in Britain has been widely (although not universally) considered a success, and has greatly influenced the privatization of state industries in the transition economies of Eastern Europe. Massimo Florio's systematic analysis is the first comprehensive treatment of the overall welfare impact of this broad national policy of divestiture. Using the tools of social cost-benefit analysis, Florio assesses the effect of privatization on consumers, taxpayers, firms, shareholders, and workers. His conclusion may be surprising to some; his findings suggest that the changeover to private ownership per se had little effect on long-term trends in prices and productivity in Britain and contributed to regressive redistribution. After historical and theoretical overviews of privatization and a look at macroeconomic trends in the Thatcher-Major era, Florio considers in detail the microeconomic effects of British privatization on several key groups. In successive chapters, he examines firms and productivity changes; shareholders' windfall gains and evidence of underpricing and outperformance in privatized companies; workers, management, and changes in industrial relations; consumers and the quantity and quality of goods after the change to public ownership; and taxpayers and the interplay between privatization and tax reform. He follows these chapters with a case study of British Telecom—significant not only because it was the largest divestiture of the period but also because of its influence on subsequent telecommunications privatization elsewhere. The final chapter considers the overall quantitative impact of the Thatcher-Major privatization on all sectors and its relationship with regulation and liberalization. The Great Divestiture not only offers an exhaustive analysis of the effects of the British process of privatization but also illustrates a method of inquiry and a testable research approach that could prove to be useful in similar studies of other countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Massimo Florio, 2006. "The Great Divestiture: Evaluating the Welfare Impact of the British Privatizations, 1979-1997," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262562227, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtp:titles:0262562227
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Laura DELPONTE & Maddalena SORRENTINO & Matteo TURRI & Daniela VANDONE, 2013. "The transformation of Milan's city energy enterprise in a leading national industrial group," CIRIEC Working Papers 1303, CIRIEC - Université de Liège.
    2. repec:bla:indrel:v:48:y:2017:i:4:p:294-309 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Judith Clifton & Daniel Díaz‐Fuentes & Marcos Fernández‐Gutiérrez & Julio Revuelta, 2011. "Is Market‐Oriented Reform Producing A ‘Two‐Track’ Europe? Evidence From Electricity And Telecommunications," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 82(4), pages 495-513, December.
    4. Daniele CHECCHI & Massimo FLORIO & Jorge CARRERA, 2004. "Privatization discontent and its determinants: evidence from Latin America," Departmental Working Papers 2004-23, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    5. Mühlenkamp, Holger, 2013. "From state to market revisited: more empirical evidence on the efficiency of public (and privately-owned) enterprises," MPRA Paper 47570, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Hulya Dagdeviren & Simon A. Robertson, 2009. "Access to Water in the Slums of the Developing World," Working Papers 57, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
    7. Stiel, Caroline & Cullmann, Astrid & Nieswand, Maria, 2015. "Productivity in the Electricity Retail Market: Does Ownership Matter? A Structural Production Function Approach for Germany," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112954, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    8. Giuseppe Coco & Silvia Fedeli, 2014. "Marxian public economics (with a comment by Massimo Florio)," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Alternative Theories of Public Economics, chapter 3, pages 60-103 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. Stefano CLÒ & Chiara F. DEL BÒ & Matteo FERRARIS & Carlo FIORIO & Massimo FLORIO & Daniela VANDONE, 2014. "Publicization versus Privatization: Recent worldwide evidence," CIRIEC Working Papers 1403, CIRIEC - Université de Liège.
    10. Lee, Cassey, 2011. "Privatization, water access and affordability: Evidence from Malaysian household expenditure data," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 2121-2128, September.
    11. Avner Offer, 2008. "British Manual Workers: From Producers to Consumers, c. 1950–2000," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _074, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    12. Irene Fafaliou & John Donaldson, 2007. "The Contribution of Privatization to Welfare," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 13(4), pages 461-474, November.
    13. repec:clh:resear:v:5:y:2012:i:3 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Alfredo Macchiati & Giovanni Siciliano, 2007. "Airlines' Privatisation in Europe: Fully versus Partial Divestiture," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, vol. 97(1), pages 123-156, January-F.
    15. Johan Willner, 2010. "Public Options and Altruistic Firms - Antitrust Targets or Tools? The Welfare Impact of a Mixed Oligopoly With Managerial firms," Discussion Papers 59, Aboa Centre for Economics.
    16. Fiorio, Carlo V. & Florio, Massimo, 2013. "Electricity prices and public ownership: Evidence from the EU15 over thirty years," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 222-232.
    17. Caroline Stiel & Astrid Cullmann & Maria Nieswand, 2015. "Productivity in Electricity Retail after Market Liberalisation: Analysing the Effects of Ownership and Firm's Governance Structure," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1531, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    18. Poggi, Ambra & Florio, Massimo, 2010. "Energy deprivation dynamics and regulatory reforms in Europe: Evidence from household panel data," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 253-264, January.
    19. Johan WILLNER & Sonja GRÖNBLOM, 2015. "The Organisation of Services of General Interest in Finland," CIRIEC Working Papers 1520, CIRIEC - Université de Liège.
    20. repec:oxf:esohwp:_074 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Johan Willner, 2013. "The welfare impact of a managerial oligopoly with an altruistic firm," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 109(2), pages 97-115, June.
    22. Donal Palcic & Eoin Reeves, 2012. "SOE Policy and the Loss of Economic Sovereignty: The Case of Ireland," Working Papers WP022012, University of Limerick, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2012.
    23. n/a, 2014. "Book Reviews," Economics of Energy & Environmental Policy, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    British privatizations; Thatcher-Major era; regressive redistribution;

    JEL classification:

    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • N44 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: 1913-
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation

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