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Will Privatization Reduce Costs?

  • Lindqvist, Erik

    ()

    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

I develop a model of public sector contracting based on the multitask framework by Holmström and Milgrom (1991). In this model, an agent can put effort into increasing the quality of a service or reducing costs. Being residual claimants, private owners have stronger incentives to cut costs than public employees. However, if quality cannot be perfectly measured, providing a private firm with incentives to improve quality forces the owner of the firm to bear risk. As a result, private firms will always be cheaper for low levels of quality but might be more expensive for high levels of quality. Extending the model to allow for differences in task attractiveness, I find that public firms shun unattractive tasks, whereas private firms undertake them if incentives are strong enough.

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Paper provided by Research Institute of Industrial Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 736.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 17 Mar 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0736
Contact details of provider: Postal: Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
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  1. Edward L. Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 1998. "Not-For-Profit Entrepreneurs," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1852, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. Schmidt, Klaus M., 1996. "The costs and benefits of privatization: An incomplete contracts approach," Munich Reprints in Economics 19773, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  3. Oliver Hart & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons," NBER Working Papers 5744, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
  5. Dalen, Dag Morten & Moen, Espen R. & Riis, Christian, 2006. "Contract renewal and incentives in public procurement," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 269-285, March.
  6. Henry Ohlsson, 2003. "Ownership and Production Costs: Choosing between Public Production and Contracting-Out in the Case of Swedish Refuse Collection," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 24(4), pages 451-476, December.
  7. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
  8. Jonathan Levin & Steven Tadelis, 2007. "Contracting for Government Services: Theory and Evidence from U.S. Cities," NBER Working Papers 13350, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. David E. M. Sappington & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1987. "Privatization, Information and Incentives," NBER Working Papers 2196, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Sloan, Frank A. & Picone, Gabriel A. & TaylorJr., Donald H. & Chou, Shin-Yi, 2001. "Hospital ownership and cost and quality of care: is there a dime's worth of difference?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 1-21, January.
  11. Tim Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2005. "Competition and incentives with motivated agents," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 928, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  12. Andrei Shleifer, 1998. "State Versus Private Ownership," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1841, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  13. Domberger, Simon & Jensen, Paul, 1997. "Contracting Out by the Public Sector: Theory, Evidence, Prospects," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(4), pages 67-78, Winter.
  14. Silverman, Elaine & Skinner, Jonathan, 2004. "Medicare upcoding and hospital ownership," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 369-389, March.
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