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Efficiency among private railway companies in a weakly regulated system: the case of Britain's railways in 1893-1912

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  • Mulatu, Abay
  • Crafts, Nicholas

Abstract

This paper uses a stochastic cost frontier model to investigate the efficiency of Britain’s private railways during the period 1893-1912. We find that there was substantial inefficiency in the industry with no sign of reduction over time. Our main conclusion is that principal agent problems were pervasive in railway management at this time. Our results suggest that private ownership per se is not sufficient to promote efficiency in the railway industry; it should be supported by competition for franchises and price-capping regulation as in the 1990s.

Suggested Citation

  • Mulatu, Abay & Crafts, Nicholas, 2005. "Efficiency among private railway companies in a weakly regulated system: the case of Britain's railways in 1893-1912," Economic History Working Papers 22552, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:22552
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/22552/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kodde, David A & Palm, Franz C, 1986. "Wald Criteria for Jointly Testing Equality and Inequality Restriction s," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(5), pages 1243-1248, September.
    2. Michael G. Pollitt & Andrew S. J. Smith, 2002. "The restructuring and privatisation of British Rail: was it really that bad?," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 23(4), pages 463-502, December.
    3. John Vickers & George Yarrow, 1988. "Privatization: An Economic Analysis," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262720116, January.
    4. Crafts, Nicholas & Mills, Terence C. & Mulatu, Abay, 2007. "Total factor productivity growth on Britain's railways, 1852-1912: A reappraisal of the evidence," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 608-634, October.
    5. David Parker, 2004. "The UK's Privatisation Experiment: The Passage of Time Permits a Sober Assessment," CESifo Working Paper Series 1126, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Ehrlich, Isaac & Georges Gallais-Hamonno & Zhiqiang Liu & Randall Lutter, 1994. "Productivity Growth and Firm Ownership: An Analytical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 1006-1038, October.
    7. Jeffry M. Netter & William L. Megginson, 2001. "From State to Market: A Survey of Empirical Studies on Privatization," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(2), pages 321-389, June.
    8. Battese, George E. & Coelli, Tim J. & Colby, T.C., 1989. "Estimation of Frontier Production Functions and the Efficiencies of Indian Farms Using Panel Data from ICRISAT's Village Level Studies," 1989 Conference (33rd), February 7-9, 1989, Christchurch, New Zealand 144383, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
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    Cited by:

    1. Crafts, Nicholas & Mills, Terence C. & Mulatu, Abay, 2007. "Total factor productivity growth on Britain's railways, 1852-1912: A reappraisal of the evidence," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 608-634, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • L92 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Railroads and Other Surface Transportation
    • B1 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe

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