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

  • Abay Mulatu
  • Nicholas Crafts

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.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/22552/
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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History in its series Economic History Working Papers with number 22552.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:22552
Contact details of provider: Postal: LSE, Dept. of Economic History Houghton Street London, WC2A 2AE, U.K.
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7955 7084
Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/economicHistory/

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  1. Pollitt, M. & Smith, A.S.J., 2001. "The Restructuring and Privatisation of British Rail: Was it really that bad?," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0118, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  2. John Vickers & George Yarrow, 1988. "Privatization: An Economic Analysis," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262720116, June.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 1006-38, October.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. David Parker, 2004. "The UK's Privatisation Experiment: The Passage of Time Permits a Sober Assessment," CESifo Working Paper Series 1126, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Kodde, David A & Palm, Franz C, 1986. "Wald Criteria for Jointly Testing Equality and Inequality Restriction s," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(5), pages 1243-48, September.
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