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A survey of the liberalisation of public enterprises in the UK since 1979

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  • Pollitt, M.G.

    ()

Abstract

This paper examines the course of the deregulation and privatisation of public enterprises in the UK since 1979. The UK privatisation programme has been the most significant in the OECD involving the transfer of ownership of over 7% of GDP from the public to the private sectors. We examine the history and genesis of this programme, the development of the regulatory system based around RPI-X price control and the evidence on the effects of the privatisation. We conclude by evaluating the policy in the terms of its original aims. We find that public enterprise privatisation successfully reduced government involvement in industry, led to increased economic efficiency and a reduced fiscal deficit. Less clearly, it contributed to the curbing of Trade Union power and wider share ownership. Most significantly of all, as the most sustained and consistent policy of the 1979-97 Conservative governments, it gained sustained advantage for pro-market political forces in the UK.

Suggested Citation

  • Pollitt, M.G., 1999. "A survey of the liberalisation of public enterprises in the UK since 1979," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 9901, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:9901
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    File URL: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/research-files/repec/cam/pdf/wp9901.pdf
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Pollitt, Michael G., 2012. "The role of policy in energy transitions: Lessons from the energy liberalisation era," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 128-137.
    2. Ajit Singh, 2006. "Competition and Competition Policy in Emerging Markets: International and Developmental Dimensions," Chapters,in: Growth and Economic Development, chapter 12 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. See, Kok Fong & Coelli, Tim, 2014. "Total factor productivity analysis of a single vertically integrated electricity utility in Malaysia using a Törnqvist index method," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 62-72.
    4. Pollitt, Michael G. & Steer, Steven J., 2012. "Economies of scale and scope in network industries: Lessons for the UK water and sewerage sectors," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 17-31.
    5. Abbott, Malcolm, 2015. "Reform and efficiency of New Zealand's airports," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 1-9.
    6. Richard Green & Jonathan Haskel, 2004. "Seeking a Premier-League Economy The Role of Privatization," NBER Chapters,in: Seeking a Premier Economy: The Economic Effects of British Economic Reforms, 1980-2000, pages 63-108 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Pollitt, Michael, 2008. "Electricity reform in Argentina: Lessons for developing countries," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 1536-1567, July.
    8. 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.
    9. Kok Fong See & Tim Coelli, 2009. "The Effects of Competition Policy on TFP Growth: Some Evidence from the Malaysian Electricity Supply Industry," CEPA Working Papers Series WP062009, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    10. Abbott, Malcolm & Ma, Xiaoying, 2013. "The regulatory governance of the telecommunication and electricity industries in small, island nations," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 7-16.
    11. Giulietti, Monica & Otero, Jesus, 2002. "The timing of tariff structure changes in regulated industries: evidence from England and Wales," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 71-99, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    privatisation; liberalisation; regulation.;

    JEL classification:

    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out
    • L50 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - General
    • L90 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - General

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